The Round Table: World Ranking points, the Ryder Cup and final hole collapses

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

It appears that the battle between the established Tours and LIV Golf has boiled down to World Ranking Points. LIV Golf wants them, citing the fact that some of the world’s top golfers play on their circuit; the Tours seem inclined to deny them, citing 54-hole invitational events, no cuts and no qualifying process as their rationale. Is there a way to resolve this with LIV’s current tournament format or are they going to have to change their structure?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I’d say they need to change their structure, but I don’t see that happening.  In my view, 54-holes with guaranteed money does not promote strong competition, nor do the obscene payouts for signing up and then showing up.  These players are no longer playing against the best in the world.  The best in the world are still playing on the PGA, DP, and Asian Tours.  I think the only way the LIV players should be allowed to qualify for OWGR points (and therefore, the majors and, arguably, the Ryder Cup) would be for them to renounce the LIV Tour, and requalify for the PGA or DP through their tour schools.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): In the short term, I think World Ranking Points can and should be provided. The issue with a closed shop like LIV (Iimited number of players) competing against the same few players every week, is figuring out how to award the proper number of points, both short and especially long term. That’s why I see this as so tricky to figure out.

Michael Schurman, Master professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: There is only one answer to this problem. Jay Monahan has boxed himself into a corner and has no recourse other than a meeting with Greg Norman. I am not a fan of the Saudis but then I am not a fan of the USA foreign policy either. This entire mess is not politically motivated. It is about competition. The PGA has a monopoly on professional golf tours around the world. Their great fear is sharing which if negotiated skillfully, they might not have to do. Now the LIV Tour is gaining traction, what if another entirety pops up? Once a group proves they have a successful formula others want a piece of their success. Why do you think there are so many hamburger restaurants or sub shops?

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I’m just so sick of talking about LIV and wish they would all just find a way to get along.  I don’t think they deserve World Ranking Points with their current format, but I also don’t think they’ll have to meet all of the current criteria to get approval eventually.  I just don’t know when that will be or what it will look like.  Wake me up when this is all done.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: The golf rankings are a challenge at the calmest of times, but the parameters aren’t arbitrary and weren’t amended and set out to stifle a blood money circuit. Meet the criteria and rules and earn points. Pretty simple.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Right now, this is a political issue but it’s really just a math problem. Almost every LIV player had a World Ranking before the split. Surely some computer whiz can figure out strength of field for LIV events based on that and then assign points based on performance in 2022. Tournament format shouldn’t matter – the PGA Tour has a number of limited field, no-cut events too and they get World Ranking points. The proof will be in the majors and any other events where LIV golfers play against PGA Tour and DP World Tour players. If their performance doesn’t hold up, it will quickly become apparent and adjustments can be made. But first, there has to be a desire on the part of the Tours to solve the problem.

Jon Rahm won the Spanish Open on the weekend and as part of his acceptance speech said that he hoped that the 2023 Ryder Cup would feature the best players from Europe and the US, not just the best from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. That obviously means the inclusion of LIV Golfers. Are you in agreement with Rahm?

Deeks: Nope.  See above.

Loughry: I am in agreement with Rahm here, and the only way to do it, is to allow them to be a captain’s pick (and you might have to allow more captain’s picks too).

Schurman: I am tired of this debate. Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull and Wayne Gretzky all signed with the WHA. yet the NHL still held the All-Star game proclaiming “watch the best players in the world”. Just because someone says it, doesn’t make it true.

Rule: Obviously everybody wants all the best players in the world playing in that event, otherwise it loses its lustre.  Just look at the recent Presidents Cup for context.  But it’ll be interesting if they include the LIV players, how it will change the dynamic of the teams.

Quinn: Maybe he just wants a few familiar teammates, but Rahm and the Ryder Cup poohbahs would be out of bounds if they allowed the LIV’ers to play in the Cup just to put on a better TV show.

Mumford: I want the best Europeans against the best Americans, regardless of where they hang out or play the rest of the year. If that means eight touring pros, three college kids and an amateur postal worker, so be it. Also, no automatic qualifiers – just 12 Captain’s picks for each side. If the Captain wants to use rankings, points or sunspots to help his decision, that’s up to him.

At the Shriners Invitational Tournament in Las Vegas, Tom Kim and Patrick Cantlay came to the 72nd hole tied. Cantlay hit his drive into the desert where it lodged behind a bush. A whack, a penalty, a shot into the pond, another penalty, then a great up-and-down left Patrick with a triple bogey and Tom Kim with his second PGA Tour victory. It was a terrible finish for Cantlay who had shot 60 the day before. What’s the worst finishing hole you ever had to lose a tournament or perhaps one your opponent made to hand you a title?

Deeks: I have a long and glorious history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  I was once four up with four to go and lost the match on the first playoff hole.  Another time, I was all square on the 18th tee, in the semi-final of the Club Championship, which I had never won.  My second shot stuck under the lip of a bunker in front of the green, roughly ten feet short of the hole.  I hacked it out with a desperate swing, landing ten feet over the back of the green, and a treacherous downhill chip.  I got up-and-down from there, but my opponent two-putted for par, and won the match.  He then went home and had a massive (non-fatal) heart attack, forfeiting the championship match the next day.  And leaving me wondering how I had choked yet again.  (Alas, I never reached the semis again.)

Loughry: I don’t really have any stories like that either way. That was pretty painful to watch though. Cantlay blew it.

Schurman: I had a couple of those, but the worst was at Deerhurst on their Lakeside course. The course record was 66. I came to the 18th tee having made a hole-in-one, and a pitch-in eagle and was -10. The 18th is drivable par 4 with OB on the left and acres on the right. Thinking I might make 2 or 3, I aimed right at the green and hit a pull hook. The ball hit a hydro pole and bounced OB. I made a double for 64, a CR but an ace would have been 59. Happy and sick at the same time.

Rule: I once four putted the final hole to tie a match that I had under control all round.  But we couldn’t play any playoff holes because the ball automatically returned to the pro shop when we holed out on 18.

Quinn: It was the final hole in the final match to decide the Can-Am Cup between golf scribes from B.C. and Washington State. I was well and truly ahead, waiting patiently pin-high for my so-called opponent to struggle onto the green. After accepting a few, shall we say pre-celebration back slaps and high fives, casually set up to flop my 60 degree (my best shot, if I do say so myself) over the bunker and get down in 3 for the monumental victory. At the last second, in the name of international harmony, decided to skull it over the green and over a fence OB. Don’t recall if I was invited back the following year. Doesn’t matter. I’m over it.

Mumford: I can’t recall anyone ever handing me a title but one year I came to the final hole of our Club Championship with a one-shot lead. It was a downhill par-5 and my drive was perfect. The only trouble lurking was a deep bunker in front of the green, so my plan was to lay up with an 6-iron well short of the sand, leaving a short  approach to the pin. Somehow, adrenalin took over and my carefully thought-out 6-iron sailed about 20 yards farther than ever before, nestling nicely in the sand. The ensuing carnage left me with a bogey, while my opponent birdied the hole for a one-shot victory.

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

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