It seems that LIV players are calling the majors’ bluff. Could this strategy fall flat?

Men’s professional golf sometimes seems like a tug-of-war that has two sides. The PGA Tour and LIV Golf both exist. The big championships, however, sometimes and quite subtly linger around that conflict.

It is commonly known that several regulatory organizations oversee the sport’s premier competitions. The USGA and R&A work together to determine how golf is played at all levels, and sometimes their decisions are identical and other times they disagree. But the idea that the majors are the most important still prevails. At least, that’s what we’re told, anyhow.

But how significant are the majors really?

It’s an issue that has only been taken seriously this year because LIV golfers jeopardized the methods by which they have long qualified for those competitions in exchange for enormous payouts. They have signed up for a tour that does not presently provide world ranking points, which are the quickest way to qualify for big events. You must play in every major if your ranking is in the top 50. You’re probably alright, Top 60. Although many LIV signees would want to see the system changed, by joining LIV, they are implying that they are okay with the possibility that they won’t play in the majors at all. Bubba Watson acknowledged this predicament on Wednesday, describing how he had informed his kids that they may not be able to attend Augusta National the next year. Although he didn’t appear to like the chat, he has undoubtedly accepted all possible possibilities.

Oh no, Bubba! Bubba is, at the very least, clear-minded.

Golfers from LIV will practice their sport and let the regulating body make decisions about them. The finest illustration may be Marc Leishman.Leishman repeatedly said at his Wednesday news conference that “hopefully” the world ranking points “sorts itself out” in order to prevent the major championships from suffering by the absence of LIV players from the fields. Leishman, who is presently rated No. 62 in the world, could easily play his way into next year’s major tournaments in any other year. Despite participating in the past 31 majors, he is unable to compete in any of them in 2023. He and several other LIV players keep saying that the ranking requirement will be resolved someday.

Only a handful LIV golfers are currently eligible for the 2023 Masters, the next men’s major. Current Open champion is Cameron Smith. He is in excellent shape. However, Mr. Major Brooks Koepka’s exemptions from winning the 2019 PGA Championship will start to expire in 2024. Since the majority of Sergio Garcia’s major exemptions expired this year and his world ranking fell, he will need to find another route to qualify for the PGA Championship, U.S. Open, and British Open. The same might be said about Watson, who has two Masters victories but has previously expressed concern that Augusta National may alter its requirements for participation.

“And I told them,” Watson said, “if they tell me that I can’t go, being a past champion, then I don’t want to be there anyway because that’s just — that’s just the wrong way to look at it it’s the game of golf. We are all trying to be the best players.”

Harold Varner III, who participated in each major this season for the first time in his career, sat next to Watson at the news conference. Varner said that his only objective when he won the Saudi International in January was to accumulate enough ranking points to secure entry into the Masters. Varner stated, “It was cool. This is my first year playing in every major.” “But, like, I think it’s way cooler making sure my kid doesn’t have to worry about anything. That’s about it.”

Late in their press conference, Watson and Varner both elaborated on this idea. Watson spoke about how Smith’s global rating is inevitably going to drop.

If they keep dumping you, you won’t be participating in any majors, according to Watson.

Varner: I’m aware. But everything will be OK. We’ll get by. The lives of many children will improve.

Watson: You said we’d live, so we will.

Varner: Many children’s lives will be affected. I vouch for it.

Watson: Hey, dude, I’m with you. With you, man.

Many LIV golfers seem to have embraced the relative indifference about whether they are in or out of the majors, but discussions of the subject are sometimes accompanied with the conviction that some form of choice is inescapable.

The governing bodies were almost challenged to hold big tournaments without them by Joaquin Niemann, who also joined LIV this week. He said, “I believe we’ve got a lot of great players here, the top 48 players in the world. We earn our spots in the majors, and they need the best players if they want to see true competition.

What will happen in the big championships then?

We’ll start by looking at Augusta National. If the claims made in a lawsuit filed earlier this month by LIV players are accurate, Augusta National has not taken the growth of LIV lightly. The complaint claims that club executives “threatened to disinvite players” from the 2022 Masters if they joined LIV. Club chairman Fred Ridley, though, has not shown any such anger in public. In his Masters press conference in April, he said, “our mission is always to act in the best interests of the game in whatever form that may take. I think that golf’s in a good place right now.” At the Masters the following year, Ridley undoubtedly wants the strongest field possible. He has little over 200 days to make a decision in that regard.

Seth Waugh, the PGA of America’s CEO, who has openly criticized LIV’s upsetting up the pro golf environment, will come after him. There are a small number of LIV golfers who have qualified for the PGA Championship. And since it doesn’t have sectional qualifying like the U.S. and British Opens, playing one’s way into that tournament is not as simple.

Will the leaders of the USGA and R&A genuinely change the qualifying exemptions for their majors as they have hinted at doing so in passing? They will have many months and many majors ahead of them. Coincidentally, the 2023 qualifying method for the European Ryder Cup squad has recently been modified. Change is undoubtedly conceivable, but today’s decisions are carefully considered in terms of justice and legality.

Of course, clarity and insight may come together. Many of the members of the board of governors for the Official World Golf Ranking are representatives of the organizations mentioned above. Everyone, including LIV golfers and supporters, is waiting to hear a verdict on those ranking points. The time is running out.

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