It will not come as a surprise to many that this week’s WGC-Match Play is shorn of LIV Golf players.
However, according to a report by Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig (opens in new tab), several LIV Golf players, including Patrick Reed, tried to enter the tournament at Austin Country Club before being denied entry by the PGA Tour.
Eligibility for the event is based on Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) position, and, despite LIV Golf players generally finding their places in the standings falling, several would still have been able to play based purely on their ranking.
The WGC-Match Play is open to the world’s top 64 players and those beneath that cut off depending on any eligible player who does not enter. Nine LIV Golf players would have qualified on that basis, including World No.66 Reed, thanks to the absence of two PGA Tour players who could have played this week, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose.
However, according to the report, the efforts of LIV players to compete in this week’s event were in vain despite it not being a solely PGA Tour event and the fact it takes place under the purview of the International Federation of PGA Tours.
That’s because the PGA Tour says the players are in violation of its conflicting events rules and applications are “subject to acceptance by the Host Tour and the International Federation of PGA Tours and may be rejected or revoked by either without liability at any time before or after commencement of Tournament play if a player fails to meet the eligibility requirements (or) violates any of the Tournament Regulations of the Host Tour.”
The PGA Tour has therefore denied the players the opportunity to appear in the tournament. That will have come as a blow to the players given not just the attractive purse of $20m they would have been competing for, but also a rare chance to accumulate some much-needed OWGR points given their primary circuit’s inability to offer them.
Had the LIV Golf players been granted permission to play, it would have no doubt led to some interesting rivalries given the strong feelings surrounding the Saudi-funded circuit and its poor relationship with the PGA Tour. In the event, any tension will now be on hold, but only for two weeks, where many LIV Golf players will tee it up alongside PGA Tour stars in the first Major of the year, The Masters at Augusta National.