The divergent worlds of LIV Golf and golf’s two most dominant tours, the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, look on course for another major fallout after LIV Golf announced the formation of a new ‘strategic alliance’ with the little-known Middle East & North Africa Tour that could potentially see LIV Golf events being accorded Official World Golf Ranking points.
With LIV Golf events currently not qualifying for OWGR points due to their unique set up and format – 54 holes with no cut and qualification by invitation only – by aligning with the Mena Tour, players on the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series could conceivably be allowed to earn OWGR points, which are used in the qualification process for the four majors and other high-profile events, including the Ryder Cup.
The Mena Tour was launched in 2011 and traditionally stages around 15 events each season, with total prize funds of around $75,000 per event. The tour, whose events are also 54 holes, has been recognised by the OWGR since 2016, although due to the weak fields does not attract anywhere near the points on offer on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour or even the Challenge Tour. The Mena Tour was suspended during the pandemic, and has so far only staged four events this year.
The alliance with the LIV Golf Invitational series will see the MENA Tour run as normal, with LIV Golf events interspersed within the Mena Tour’s schedule – almost as a tour within a tour. The alliance could come into effect as early as this Friday (October 7), the first day of the LIV Golf’s next event in Thailand, but it would require the board of the OWGR to ratify the new alliance before any points might be awarded.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Mena Tour said: “The Mena Tour today announced a strategic alliance which will result in LIV Golf Invitational events becoming part of and sanctioned by the Mena Tour, a Dubai-based golf tour which has been recognized by the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) since 2016.
“The alliance will boost the Mena Tour’s development programs and immediately qualify LIV Golf for OWGR points, starting with the LIV Golf Thailand event at Stonehill this week.
“The final field for LIV Golf Thailand, the opening event of the 2022-23 Mena Tour season, will be submitted to OWGR by the Mena Tour ahead of play commencing on Friday when the final field rating and winners’ points are expected to be confirmed. As a result of the alliance, all LIV Golf players have joined the Mena Tour.”
Atul Khosla, the president of LIV Golf, said: “We are taking this mutually beneficial action to support the game at the developmental level and because of the importance and fairness of LIV golfers qualifying for OWGR points. We’re pleased to create pathways that give more opportunities for young players, while also giving fans rankings that include all the world’s best golfers.”
Neither the PGA Tour nor the DP World Tour has so far commented on this latest development, but as both bodies have board members on the OWGR it is likely that they will have a major role to play in whether LIV Golf’s latest move is successful or not.
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