For one day it appeared that LIV Golf had found a solution to their world-ranking points dilemmas before the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) had their say and no points will be forthcoming this week.
On Wednesday it was announced that the MENA (Middle East and North Africa)
Tour had entered into a strategic alliance (there's that phrase again) with LIV Golf. The MENA Tour has received OWGR accreditation since 2016 and the LIV powers-that-be were confident that their players would begin to accrue some much-needed ranking points as early as this week for their event in Bangkok.
As part of the 'partnership' the 13 LIV events lined up for 2023 will be shoehorned into the MENA Tour calendar with the remaining events also open to LIV members. The developmental tour offers, in comparison, some very low returns with a total purse of $75,000 which pales into insignificance when compared to the LIV riches.
But they're a counting ranking tour and that is of far more importance than anything in the current climate with the LIV stars rocketing down the world rankings. The current process to determine whether a tour is worthy of world-ranking points is two years.
“From a player standpoint, it feels great to have everyone at LIV fighting so hard for the players and their best interests,” Phil Mickelson said before things hit the skids. “For the world golf rankings, this is a great way to keep its credibility while not bringing in politics into the decision-making process. I think it’s good for all parties.”
But a statement from the OWGR put the breaks on that. The statement read that they had only received a communication on the Wednesday, detailing 'significant changes to the MENA Tour's membership structure along with an outline of the initial series of tournaments in the 2022/23 MENA Tour season'.
With these obviously being the same as the LIV events in Bangkok and Jeddah these two weeks will not receive any points in order to give the OWGR sufficient time to conduct a review into them.
"Only after the review is complete will a decision be made on awarding points to the MENA Tour's new "Limited Field Tournaments", defined by the MENA Tour in its Regulations as "any MENA Tour-approved tournament, which comprises of a player field of less than 80 players". Regular official MENA Tour events conducted over 54 or 72 holes with a cut after 36 holes, and its Tour Championship, typically conducted over 54 holes with no cut, remain eligible for inclusion in the OWGR."
The MENA Tour has only played four events since the start of the pandemic and, while it was common knowledge that it would be returning soon, the news that it would be aligned with the LIV circuit was a big surprise.
The MENA Tour commissioner David Spencer then had his say.
"We have had various communications with OWGR since submitting our 2022/23 schedule, MENA Tour handbook, exemption criteria and our field ahead of our opening event of our new season," Spencer said.
"None of this communication pointed towards any technical reason for the LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok to be treated any differently to any MENA Tour event, every one of which has received OWGR since we were accepted into the OWGR framework in 2016.
"For absolute clarity, the OWGR itself defines a limited field tournament as a tournament which has less than 30 qualified players. Furthermore, the MENA Tour has always had the OWGR’s blessing to stage 54-hole tournaments."
So the short-term search for those elusive world ranking points goes on.