LIV Golf filed its application for world ranking points a month after it played its first event, and none was awarded for the inaugural season as the Official World Golf Ranking considers it.
The effect of not earning ranking points — except for two majors and a few European tour events — is becoming clear with each week.
LIV Golf signed 18 players who were among the top 50 going into 2022. With two months left in the year, now there are only 11. Of those players, nine were in the top 25 to start the year. Now there are three.
Dustin Johnson was No. 13 when he signed. Now he is at No. 31, one spot behind Corey Conners.
Nine players have fallen out of the top 100, a group that includes Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter and Matthew Wolff.
Still to be determined is how much the majors will rely on the world ranking as part of their criteria. But even if the majors left everything the way it was last year, 35 of the leading 48 players from LIV Golf would not be exempt for the Masters, U.S. Open or British Open next year. The PGA Championship bases a bulk of its field on “special invitations,” and those invitations tend to go to players in the top 100.
Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and most likely Johnson would be the only ones assured of playing in all four majors. All have won majors from 2019 or onward, and those typically come with a five-year exemption to the other majors.
TIGER'S MILWAUKEE ACE
Tiger Woods played to the crowd when he made a hole-in-one at the Greater Milwaukee Open in his professional debut in 1996. He tossed the ball into the crowd. It bounced off the hands of Bob Gustin’s brother-in-law right into his lap.
Even more fortuitous for Gustin was getting Woods to sign the Titleist Professional 90.
Gustin has kept the ball in a glass case with all the tournament information on a gold plaque. And now it’s going to auction.
The “1996 Tiger Woods Hole-in-One Golf Ball” will be in Heritage Auctions’ Fall Sports Catalog on Nov. 17-19. A full ticket from the tournament where Woods made his pro debut sold for $99,000 in February.
Gustin said he would be splitting the proceed with David Beck, his brother-in-law.
“He’s the one who shouted, ‘Throw it over here!’ He’s the only who it deflected off of before it came to me,” Gustin said. “We both had a part in me ending up with this ball, so we’ll both enjoy it after it goes to someone else.”
Woods had made only three aces on tour, all early in his career. He made his most famous hole-in-one on the 16th hole of the Phoenix Open the following year, and his third one at the Sprint International in 1998.
LYDIA MOVES ON
Lydia Ko is making another coaching change, leaving Sean Foley after more than two years. Ko said the split was for “logistical reasons.”
The split comes during one of Ko's most consistent seasons. She has risen to No. 3 in the world and leads the race for LPGA Player of the Year (by one point) and the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average.
“When I first met Sean, I was in a place where I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself and in my game,” Ko wrote on Instagram. “Over the past two years he has helped me evolve as a better player and person. Our time together was full of so much learning, laughter. Last month, we decided to go our own ways as a coach and player due to logistical reasons, but Sean will always be a close friend. Sean has been and will be a mentor to me."
NEW NO. 1
Jin Young Ko lost the No. 1 ranking this week to Atthaya Thitikul, largely due to an injured left wrist that kept her out for two months and led to her withdrawing when she returned two weeks ago at the BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea.
Ko now has a chance to do something no one else has since the women's world ranking made its debut in 2006. No one has reached No. 1 five times.
Ko, Sung Hyun Park and Inbee Park each have gone to No. 1 on four occasions. Ko is hopeful of returning for the final two LPGA events in Florida.
She has been No. 1 for 156 weeks, two weeks short of the record set by Lorena Ochoa. Ochoa reached No. 1 only once and stayed there until her surprise retirement in 2010.
Chase Koepka has played in Bangkok, Saudi Arabia and Miami in the past four months. Now he's headed for Morocco to play in the International Series event on the Asian Tour.
Never mind that Koepka won more money on LIV Golf this year — $4.3 million — than the Asian Tour event offers in total prize money ($1.5 million).
Koepka is among six players who earned more in LIV Golf than the total prize find in Morocco this week. The others are James Piot, Turk Pettit, Wade Ormsby, Sihwan Kim and Phachara Khongwatmai.
The Morocco field includes 15 players who have competed in at least one LIV Golf Invitational event this year, including Andy Ogletree. He played in the inaugural LIV event outside London, finished last and made $120,000.
HAVE GAME, WILL TRAVEL
In the non-major division, Rory McIlroy winning the CJ Cup at Congaree and The Summit allowed him to join Tiger Woods as the only players in the past 20 years to twice defend a title on a different course.
McIlroy also won the Canadian Open at Hamilton in 2019 and at St. George’s in 2022 (two years were canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic). Woods won a World Golf Championship in Ireland (2002) and north of Atlanta (2003), and then Harding Park (2005), The Grove outside London (2006) and Doral (2007).
Throw in the majors over the past 20 years and the list expands.
Woods twice defended his PGA Championship title at different courses (Medinah-Valhalla in 1999-2000 and Medinah-Southern Hills in 2006-07) and the British Open (St. Andrews-Royal Liverpool in 2005-06). Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open in consecutive years at Erin Hills and Shinnecock Hills and the PGA Championship at Bellerive and Bethpage Black).
Chicago Golf Club, one of the founding clubs of the USGA, will host the U.S. Women's Open for the first time in 2033. ... Oliver Bekker has played 26 times on the European tour this year and earned 776,297 euros. He played one time at a LIV Golf Invitational and made $737,500. ... The Irish Open is moving to Sept. 7-10 next year, putting it two weeks after the FedEx Cup ends and two weeks before the Ryder Cup in Italy. ... One day after Tennessee Volunteers freshman Caleb Surratt was 21 shots worse (64-85), he was 20 shots better (85-65) at the Bermuda Championship. ... John Solheim has been selected to receive the PGA Distinguished Service Award. Solheim, the executive chairman of Ping and the son of founder Karsten Solheim, is to be honored Wednesday at the PGA of America's annual meeting in Phoenix. ... Twelve of the past 13 winners on the PGA Tour have been ranked inside the top 50 in the world. The exception was Mackenzie Hughes (No. 82) in the Sanderson Farms Championship.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Including his bonus for winning the season points race, Johnson averaged $1,484,907 for every round he played on LIV Golf this year.
“How could they ignore us now?” — Talor Gooch at the conclusion of the LIV Golf season.
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