The release of the final official world ranking for men’s golf for 2022 revealed some hard evidence about the impact joining the LIV Golf Series has had on some of the world’s top players in terms of their place in the global game.
Only seven golfers currently playing on the Saudi-backed tour are now inside the top 50 in the world. Cameron Smith, who only joined LIV Golf in August, and some of the other latecomers, are yet to feel impact of their PGA Tour ban and the lack of world rankings points for LIV Golf events, but those who were on board from the very beginning, including the likes of Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood, have seen their world ranking take a huge hit.
Johnson has dropped 26 spots in the OWGR, from 15 to 41, in the space of just seven months, but on the flip side, as LIV Golf’s most successful player in 2022, he has earned $35.6 million in prize money since June and banked probably several times more than that in signing-on fees.
Cam Smith has dropped just one place in the rankings – from 3 to 2 – since joining LIV Golf after his Open Championship success, and it will take some time to dislodge him from the world’s top 10, but other leading names have taken far bigger hits, with Paul Casey dropping 27 places to 58, Westwood plummeting 86 places to 164, while Mickelson is now a lowly 213rd in the rankings, having dropped 141 places after being one of the first to sign to LIV Golf.
Among the other the other major winners competing on the Saudi-backed tour, Brooks Koepka has dropped out of the world’s top 50 and is now 52nd after slipping 29 places; Louis Oosthuizen has seen his ranking decline by the same number and is now 50th; while Sergio Garcia is now ranked 113, having been 57th.
With the organisers of the four majors so far resisting any moves to bar LIV Golf from competing in next year’s events, those LIV Golfers already qualified for the Masters, US PGA, US Open and The Open in 2023 by dint of their past performances or world ranking will still be able to tee it up in golf’s marquee tournaments. However, it remains to be seen whether LIV Golf will be able to convince the organisers of the OWGR that their events should qualify for ranking points going forward, so the full impact of the lack of points won’t start to fully unravel until midway through next season.
LIV Golf has already lobbied the OWGR for its members to be given ranking points for its events, but with the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour among those with positions on the OWGR Board, it remains unlikely that they will be offered an olive branch any time soon – although the request is currently ‘under consideration’.