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As OWGR Undergoes Another Overhaul, Does It Offer a Glimmer of Hope for LIV Golf?

Published 12/24/2023, 10:30 AM EST

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OWGR recently released another update that changed the way for limited field events. While it will impact the PGA Tour, because of the elevated importance—both in paycheck and status—of limited-field Signature events, LIV Golf might also find succor in the recent changes.

This change comes on the back of another one that came in last December. Although not much of a change, but rather a leeway given to another 54-hole event, LIV Golf was banking on it for a positive verdict in their case. The points-giving authority awarded OWGR points to a 54-hole, three-day Gira de Golf Mexicana. However, that event had a 36-hole cut, unlike LIV Golf.

But OWGR’s recent changes also mention guidelines for no-cut events. So, does it open the doors for LIV Golf? To understand that, we also need to understand why OWGR denied points to LIV Golf in the first place.

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Why was LIV Golf denied points?

OWGR had three major reasons to deny points to LIV Golf players. First and foremost was the three-day no-cut event. The points-giving authority cited it would cause a disparity in awarding points to the league considering that most OWGR-sanctioned events have a cut, where players have to struggle to get to the top rung and earn points.

Secondly, LIV Golf’s team play and individual tournaments going side-by-side were a critical cause of concern for the points-giving authority. They specifically pointed out Sebastian Munoz’s comment after LIV Golf Orlando.

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In this year’s tournament, Munoz gave Brooks Koepka a hot chase on the final hole. Both were around forty feet away from a birdie putt. Interestingly, Munoz’s Torque GC was leading Koepka’s Smash GC by a shot. So, when Koepka tried for a birdie putt and missed, Munoz didn’t see an opportunity to lead the way. Rather, he was defensive, because if he overshot it and failed to make par, it would cost his team the lead. OWGR took issues with tram-play coming in individual performances’ way.

Thirdly, they pointed out that LIV Golf does not have a qualification tournament through which new players can gain entry. However, Greg Norman solved this problem by introducing the LIV Golf Promotions event.

So one obstacle has already been in LIV Golf’s way. While the other two issues might also undergo some changes courtesy of two recent developments, One is OWGR’s new updates, and the second is Jon Rahm’s signing.

What do the rules say?

OWGR updates had two major components germane to LIV Golf. First, the points giving authority revamped the structure for limited field events. As per the new rules, events with a field strength of less than 80 will have a different point structure. The winner of these events will get 21% of the total field points, as opposed to the 15% they got earlier.

Secondly, the points giving authority took into account no-cut events as well. The new rule explains that in no-cut events, the bottom 15 percent of players will not receive any points. Moreover, the new rules have some guidelines for the match-play format too.

In match-play, when a player fails to win any match, they will not be considered for points. A similar fate befalls those who fail to win any matches in the first round as well.

How can LIV Golf be impacted by the OWGR changes?

LIV Golf events have limited fields—12 teams and 48 players with no cuts. So, OWGR’s separate rules for limited field events and no-cut events indicate the removal of one obstacle from the way.

Moreover, the new updates also recognize match-play events. However, one thing to remember here is that OWGR’s main issue with LIV Golf was the match play and team play formats going on simultaneously. The OWGR committee believed the team play format would impact the individual game, and therefore, the system in place was not able to evaluate the LIV Golf players.

However, they remained hopeful of developing a future system that would take into account the nuances. Moreover, they also urged LIV Golf to re-submit their plea should they choose to change their format, which makes Jon Rahm’s signing more significant.

Jon Rahm can bring a momentous change

Rahm’s aversion for the shotgun start, three-day event, no cut, was all too well-known. So, most questions veered towards that aspect that what made Rahm change his mind. Or, is the defending Masters champion hoping to change the format in the breakaway league?

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However, Rahm decided to sidestep the question with ambiguous answers. But the Spaniard did express his hopes that LIV Golf would listen to some of his advice. ESPN cited an insider source to report that PIF officials are considering bringing some modifications to the league’s format to appease the Spanish international.

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On top of that, the $3 billion merger framework is nearing its deadline. Reports indicate that the deadline might be extended. This indicates that both parties are willing to come on board. If the merger agreement goes as it was announced on June 6, the PGA Tour will have a majority in the high table to somewhat dictate the functioning of LIV Golf. So, if the board approves, they can make certain modifications to the nascent league’s format. Perhaps the PGA Tour’s signature events might incorporate the team-play aspect in return. Moreover, making some changes in the format will ease the process for LIV Golf and will encourage more players to join the breakaway league.

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Written by:

Parnab Bhattacharya

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One take at a time

Parnab Bhattacharya is a Beat Writer at EssentiallySports in the Golf Division. With four years of writing experience, he is now exploring his deep-rooted love for the gentleman’s sport. Parnab's area of expertise is his predictive and perspective pieces, where he explores all things golf, diving deep into the whys and whats behind players' and Tours' moves in the sport, and unflinchingly voicing his take.
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Edited by:

Riya Singhal

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