LIV Golf says players can earn ranking points after Mena Tour deal

Open champion Cameron Smith (right) said money was “a factor” in joining Greg Norman’s LIV Golf Series.

The Saudi-backed LIV Golf series has signed a “strategic alliance” with the Middle East and Africa (Mena) Tour, which it says will allow its players to earn world ranking points.

LIV Golf is not currently recognized by the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), so players risk slipping down the rankings and missing out on majors.

The Mena Tour has been recognized by the OWGR since 2016.

LIV Golf chief Atul Khosla said the deal will be “mutually beneficial”.

All LIV Golf players have been entered into the Mena Tour as part of the deal, although the OWGR has yet to confirm whether they will automatically earn world ranking points.

“We are taking this mutually beneficial action to help the game at a developmental level and for the importance and fairness of LIV golfers qualifying for OWGR points,” Khosla said.

The Mena Tour was launched in 2011 and mainly organizes 54-hole events across the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, providing players with a pathway to the Asian Tour and the Asian Development Tour.

It has been inactive since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, but will return this weekend with the LIV Golf Thailand event in Bangkok.

The Mena Tour said it “expects” to send the final field and confirmation of ranking points to OWGR before the start of the tournament on Friday.

“This is a very exciting day for the Mena Tour and for our players,” Mena Tour Commissioner David Spencer said. “This is great news for the future of many of the young players on our tour.”

LIV Golf, led by two-time major winner and former world number one Greg Norman, launched in June and has caused deep divisions in the sport.

Six-time winner Phil Mickelson, former world number one Dustin Johnson and Open champion Cameron Smith are among the players joining LIV, which offers $25 million in purses at its events.

The DP World Tour and PGA Tour strengthened their alliance in response to the new tour, while the PGA suspended and fined players who were allowed to join the runaway series.

That prompted LIV Golf to file a lawsuit against the PGA Tour claiming it violated competition laws, which the PGA Tour responded by launching. counter claim

The BBC has approached OWGR for comment.