BROOKLINE (AFP) - The Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit is planning to formally request acceptance into the global rankings system, series chief Greg Norman said.
LIV commissioner Norman told Fox News in a television interview late on Saturday (June 18) that the controversial breakaway series has a "compelling case" for its tournaments to be awarded rankings points.
The issue of LIV Golf's events being recognised by the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) system could be pivotal to the breakaway series' future.
If players can earn rankings points from LIV events, it becomes easier for golfers on the circuit to qualify for golf's four Major tournaments.
Norman told Fox that LIV plans to submit an application for rankings entry imminently.
"We're actually applying for OWGR points right now. We're actually putting in our application probably over the weekend, if not Monday," the Australian said on Fox.
"And it's a very compelling application. We've worked very, very closely with the technical committee understanding all the components of what you need to apply for it."
The emergence of LIV Golf this year has plunged the sport into turmoil, with several top players from the United States-based PGA Tour opting to switch to the Saudi-funded series, which offers some of the richest purses in golf history.
The PGA Tour, however, has adopted a zero-tolerance stance towards the series, with commissioner Jay Monahan last week suspending 17 former or current tour players for making the switch.
Monahan is one of the eight members of the OWGR board which will rule on LIV's application to the rankings system.
Norman told Fox he believes Monahan should "recuse himself" from any vote on LIV's entry, citing a television interview the PGA Tour chief gave last week in which he defended his decision to issue suspensions.
"It's very interesting and it's sad to be, you know, putting that additional exerting pressure on it because our tour is a good tour," Norman said.
"It's supported, it's got an incredible field. Our point should be that if we get the OWGR out points, then everything else takes care of itself."
LIV Golf, which is funded by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, has drawn stinging criticism from human rights groups, saying the series is an attempt to boost the kingdom's image through sport.
Prominent US broadcaster Bob Costas recently joined the chorus of criticism, accusing LIV players as accepting "blood money".
However, Norman hit back at that criticism, noting that companies sponsoring the PGA Tour regularly did business with Saudi Arabia, and noting that the tour had also allowed its members to play in a DP World Tour (European Tour) event held in the country.
"I'm disappointed people go down that path, quite honestly," he said. "If they want to look at it in prism, then why does the PGA Tour have 23 sponsors doing 40-plus billion dollars worth of business with Saudi Arabia?
"Why is it okay for the sponsors? Will Jay Monahan go to each and every one of those CEOs of the 23 companies that are investing into Saudi Arabia and suspend them and ban them?
"The hypocrisy in all this, it's so loud it's deafening."
After making its debut in Britain last week, LIV Golf will hold its first event in the United States from June 30-July 2 in Oregon.