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LIV Golf members set to get world ranking points in new 'strategic alliance' with MENA Tour

All LIV Golf members have joined the MENA Tour and could start earning world ranking points for competing in those events as early this week, subject to OWGR approval; First five events of the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series were played without world ranking points on offer

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Sky Sports News' Jamie Weir explains how LIV Golfers may be able to earn world ranking points after the league teamed up with the MENA Tour

Members of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series could be set to be able to earn world ranking points as part of a new "strategic alliance" with the MENA Tour.

LIV Golf Invitational events will now be sanctioned by the MENA Tour - a third-tier circuit launched in 2011 and recognised by the Official World Golf Rankings [OWGR] since 2016.

The alliance could qualify LIV Golf for OWGR points, possibly as early as the LIV Golf Thailand event at Stonehill from October 7-9.

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Branden Grace has defended his involvement in LIV Golf, stating it is only going to get 'bigger and better'

The final field for LIV Golf Thailand, the opening event of the 2022/23 MENA Tour season, will be submitted to OWGR by the MENA Tour ahead of play commencing on Friday. The final field rating and winners' points are expected to be confirmed, although the OWGR has yet to comment on the new partnership.

"This is a very exciting day for the MENA Tour and our players," said David Spencer, the MENA Tour commissioner. "Through this alliance, our players will now have enhanced playing opportunities and stronger pathways. This is great news for the future of many young players on our tour."

The MENA Tour delivers 54-hole events primarily across the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, with the circuit providing a pathway for players into the Asian Tour and Asian Development Tour.

"We are taking this mutually beneficial action to support the game at the developmental level and because of the importance and fairness of LIV golfers qualifying for OWGR points," said Atul Khosla, the president and COO of LIV Golf.

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"We're pleased to create pathways that give more opportunities for young players, while also giving fans rankings that include all the world's best golfers."

Cameron Smith, left, prepares to hit is tee shot on the 18th hole as Dustin Johnson watches during the final round of the LIV Golf Invitational-Chicago tournament Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Sugar Hill, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Image: Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson will be among the LIV Golf members now able to earn world ranking points

'Some coup if LIV Golf pull this off - but ranking points will be minimal'

Sky Sports News' Jamie Weir:

"We need to make it clear that this is still subject to ratification from the OWGR board. There are still hurdles to jump through and it is by no means a formality but if LIV have managed to pull this off then it is some coup and you have to take your hat off to them. It is a very clever loophole they have found getting into bed with a tour that is already recognised by the OWGR.

"It is going to be minimal points if they are ratified as it is still 54 holes and a very small field of 48 players and under new OWGR specifications it is not just strength of field but depth of field. Yes, they have some very strong players in the LIV Golf series - Cam Smith, Dustin Johnson, Joaquin Niemann - but they also have some weak players and only a 48-man field.

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Billy Horschel says players who joined LIV golf will have 'some regrets' and they should understand there are 'consequences' to their decisions after players learned there will be no world ranking points issued in the tournament

"But ranking points make a huge difference. A number of players are free to play majors for a certain period but a lot of others aren't and this could be their only way back into major championships by getting those crucial, valuable world ranking points. Potentially LIV Golf players and their commissioner Greg Norman are now celebrating."

LIV Golf: The season so far

The LIV Golf Invitational Series has caused controversy within the golfing world since its launch this year, with the PGA Tour suspending indefinitely players who elected to compete in the breakaway circuit.

Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter were among the first wave of players to join the series, consisting of 54-hole events limited to a 48-man field, with Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Champion Golfer of the Year Cameron Smith all signing since.

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Phil Mickelson says divisive talk is doing the sport of golf no good and hopes the PGA Tour and LIV Golf can come together for the benefit of the game

All 48 players who competed at LIV Golf's event outside Chicago last month sent a joint letter to OWGR chairman Peter Dawson, urging him to award ranking points to competitors, although the application for their own world ranking status remains under review.

The first five events of the inaugural season were played without world ranking points on offer, with Charl Schwartzel winning the opener in London, Branden Grace prevailing in Portland and Henrik Stenson triumphing in Bedminster, before Johnson and Smith claimed the next two victories.

What next for LIV Golf?

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Open champion Cameron Smith said last month it was unfair those who joined LIV Golf were not receiving world ranking points

Royal Greens Golf Club - the site of the Saudi International in recent years - hosts the seventh event from October 14-16, with the season-ending Team Championship at Trump National Doral Miami from October 27-30.

The format changes in the Team Championship, which is a seeded four-day, four-round, match play knockout tournament. The top four seeds automatically receive a bye through the first round, with the remaining eight teams playing against each other to see who reaches the quarter-finals.

The LIV Golf League will officially launch in 2023 with 48 players and 12 established team franchises competing in a 14-tournament schedule. Venues are yet to be confirmed, although events are expected in North and Latin Americas, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Europe.

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