Tour chiefs will sit out ranking-points decision

Jay Monahan, PGA TOUR Commissioner, during the Sentry Tournament of Champions at in Hawaii on Jan 8. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON – PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and DP World Tour chief executive officer Keith Pelley have recused themselves from the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) board’s upcoming decision on whether to reward ranking points to LIV Golf events.

Pelley told The Telegraph of London that he, his COO Keith Waters and Monahan all told the OWGR board at its last meeting that they would sit out the LIV debate “because our respective legal counsel suggested we did”.

ESPN confirmed on Monday that Monahan recused himself.

Instead, the decision will come down to representatives of the four Major championship organisers – Augusta National Golf Club, the PGA of America, the USGA and the R&A.

OWGR points are important to LIV defectors because they’re one of several ways the Major fields are decided. Facing indefinite PGA Tour suspensions, some LIV members have taken to playing events they’re allowed to in Asia and Australia to keep their rankings afloat.

Without OWGR points, former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson – the individual champion of the first season of LIV Golf – has fallen from No. 16 last July to No. 44 on Monday. Patrick Reed ended 2021 at No. 25 and has plummeted to No. 90 despite playing some Asian and European events.

And Bryson DeChambeau, who has been ranked as high as fourth in the world in his young career, currently checks in at No. 88.

LIV CEO Greg Norman previously called for Monahan and Pelley to recuse themselves from the OWGR board’s decision because of a conflict of interest.

Receiving rankings points would lend further legitimacy to the upstart series financed by Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund, and Monahan in particular has spoken out against LIV.

“I have not looked at the LIV application, and I’ve not given my opinions on an application I’ve not seen,” Pelley told the Telegraph.

“So, as far as LIV goes, we are not involved in it and have no influence or say in what transpires.”

Meanwhile, the full 2023 LIV Golf League schedule has been announced amid news Norman will have more power and autonomy in the upstart circuit’s second season.

The Australian, 67, will increase his role on LIV’s executive team with managing director Majed Al Sorour stepping down. LIV will not replace Al Sorour.

“As the business transitions into its first full season with a new broadcast partnership in place, the time is right for the managing director role to transition and for Majed to focus efforts and attention on other interests,” said LIV, adding that Al Sorour will continue to serve on its board of directors.

Norman’s increased role is notable given the shots fired by Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. Both came out late in 2022 advocating for Norman to step down – or be fired – if a path to working with the PGA Tour were to emerge.

LIV golfers will compete for US$405 million (S$534.6 million) across 14 events this season, US$180 million more than the eight events in 2022. It will also stage its first leg in Singapore at Sentosa Golf Club from April 28-30.

The tour, whose season-ending team championship is moving to Saudi Arabia, last Thursday announced a TV deal with CW Network. REUTERS

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