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Have LIV Golf found world rankings loophole? Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson back MENA Tour 'alliance'

LIV Golf Invitational Series is currently played without Official Golf World Ranking (OWGR) points on offer; OWGR confirmed LIV Golf events in Thailand and Saudi Arabia this month would continue without points being available

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World Number 134 Phil Mickelson is happy to have full support from LIV Golf over their pursuit to earn world golf ranking points

Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson have backed a new strategic alliance between LIV Golf and the MENA Tour that could see members of the Saudi-backed circuit earn world ranking points in the future.

The MENA Tour, a third-tier circuit which has been recognised by the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) since 2016, released a statement on Wednesday to announce that all LIV Golf members had signed up to their Dubai-based tour.

The "strategic alliance" will see all LIV Golf events sanctioned by the MENA Tour and added to their schedule, starting with the LIV Golf Thailand event beginning on Friday, while they also hoped the move would make them immediately eligible to accumulate OWGR points.

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Jamie Weir explains how LIV Golf may have found a loophole involving the MENA Tour, when it comes to its members receiving world ranking points

The OWGR released a statement on Thursday to confirm the Thailand event - along with the tournament in Saudi Arabia next week - would not be considered for world ranking points due to "insufficient time" for a full review into the MENA Tour's application, with a review also underway on the circuit's alliance with LIV Golf.

"I think from a player standpoint, it feels great to have everyone at LIV fighting so hard for the players and their best interests," Mickelson said on the new partnership. "I think for the World Golf Rankings, this is a great way to keep its credibility, while not bringing in politics into the decision-making process. I think it's good for all parties.

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Bryson DeChambeau believes that people should give LIV Golf a chance and says he couldn't be happier with his decision to join the tour

"The reason I'm not concerned is that the number of points are based on the quality of the field and not the organisation that's running the tournament, and the quality of our field is remarkably strong. I'm sure for the world golf rankings to maintain their credibility, they'll continue to award the proper number of points that the tournaments deserve for all tours.

"Given the many obstacles that we have had to face from those trying to stop it, I think it's a great way to do this in addition to adding in a developmental tour for the Asian Tour who will be our feeding tour going forward. I think it's a win on all parts."

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

Should LIV Golf get OWGR status?

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, with the application for their own world ranking status remaining under review.

"For me, I think we deserve them [world ranking points]," Johnson said. "I think obviously with the quality of players we have out here, the events we're having, we should have them.

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World Number 23 Dustin Johnson believes its fair that LIV Tour players should earn official world ranking points but does not expect retrospective points from events earlier in the season

"I think it's fair. I think it's very smart and strategic the way they're going about it, but hopefully they make the right decision and give us World Ranking points."

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 Cameron Smith claimed the next two victories.

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Billy Horschel said at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship that players who joined LIV golf will have 'some regrets' and that they should understand there are 'consequences' to their decisions

"Obviously none of us are playing events where you get points, so we kind of keep slowly moving down," Johnson added. "I don't see that happening [points being reinstated for earlier events], though, which is okay.

"At least going forward, hopefully we'll have them, because like I said, it's supposed to be a fair and non-biased organisation that is for golf, which is exactly what we're doing. Hopefully they'll make the right decision and give us World Ranking points."

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

What next for LIV Golf?

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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