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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Brian Keogh

Graeme McDowell says word ‘official’ should be removed from the world ranking system if LIV players stay denied

Graeme McDowell during a press conference ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational Series in June

Graeme McDowell believes the word ‘official’ should be removed from the moniker Official World Golf Ranking if LIV Golf members continue to be denied world ranking points.

Speaking ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah, McDowell said: “We all agree, and I think most people in the world of golf would agree, that the field out here is to a certain strength now where it's impossible to ignore the talent that's out here.

"This guy standing in the middle of the three of us (Dustin Johnson), if his World Ranking is inaccurate, then the whole system is inaccurate.

“So the only assurances we get from LIV is that we are ticking all the boxes that we can tick and continue to do what is necessary for the OWGR to look at us the right way.

"You know, hopefully, it's inevitable, but the longer it goes on, the games that are being played, you know, all we want is to have a fair core, if you like, to recognise exactly what it is that we are doing out here.

"Like I said, I feel like LIV tried to do everything they possibly can to be legitimate in the eyes of the OWGR. We've got some quality, quality players out here.

"The word 'Official' has to go away from OWGR if they don't take care of the players out here."

McDowell points to the fact Dustin Johnson claimed LIV's season-long individual championship last week in Bangkok to claim the $18million bonus prize on top of the $12m he made over the previous six events.

"If (Johnson's) world ranking is inaccurate, then the whole system is inaccurate," McDowell said.

The reality is that nothing is going to change soon.

The OWGR had already said that neither last week's event in Thailand, nor this week's Jeddah event will receive points as they have not had time to study LIV Golf's strategic alliance with the MENA Tour.

"We're going to get world ranking points,” Johnson said. “Just right now, it's another way.

"If we wait too long, all of our rankings are going to drop so much that it's not going to matter. We are hoping (the OWGR) do the right thing, and all of us hope to hear in the next week or so and this will all go away."

Harold Varner III joined McDowell and Johnson at a pre-event press conference.

The trio won the last three editions of the Saudi International, which was a DP World Tour event for its first two editions in 2020 and 2021.

"I've had a great time out here," Varner said. "So the world ranking thing, it's just been a part of golf for so long, and now all of a sudden some feathers have been ruffled. It's funny, though, I think. But it is what it is."

McDowell admitted he doesn't know if another ranking system could be created.

"To me, when I look at the OWGR, it's to give everyone a fair opportunity around the globe as a professional player, playing in a strength of field that's relative to be recognised within that ranking system, to give everyone a fair crack at the whip.

"You know, like I said, I love the fact that LIV has been so transparent with us, trying to make sure that they are ticking all the boxes and do the job they need to do to get a fair case with the OWGR.

“The guys that sit on that board, obviously, there's a huge amount of confliction (sic) on that board.

"The longer this goes on, we have a huge amount of deterioration in the current World Ranking points for the guys out here, and if that doesn't retrospectively kind of get taken care of, by the time that we do get ranking points, our strength of field is going to be relatively much less than it needs to be.

"So we just get hurt the longer this game gets played, and it needs to be taken care of ASAP."

Asked about the $30 m he has won this year and whether he regretted moving to LIV Golf, world No 24 Johnson went for irony.

"We talked about this yesterday," Johnson said, making no attempt to conceal the fact he was being ironic. "I really regret my decision to come here. It's just so terrible (laughter). I'm sitting there last night thinking about it, it was really bothering me a lot. Yeah, just can't get over it."

McDowell, who was 47th in the world when he won the Saudi International in 2020, is now 419th in the world.

"When I won this tournament in 2020, I was very much like Harold," he said. "It got my golf game back on track ... the European Tour had brought a nation to the table that was curious about the game of golf and wanted to ... that wanted to be involved. And that was exciting.

"You know,tThe European Tour has played a huge amount of golf in the Middle East and been incredibly successful with that.

"To me, this was just another great opportunity to come to a nation that was hoping to put money into the game of golf.

"And when I won here in 2020, it was the same as Harold, got back in the top 50 in the world, got me back in the Masters and got me back doing all the things I had missed for a few years.

"It was a huge win for me at the time and something I was proud of. We stand here two years later, two and a half years later, the golfing globe has changed so much.

"The opinions on what we are doing here in this country have done a full 180. A huge amount of that is not real and driven by the media, unfortunately."

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