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LIV players to get ranking points, MENA Tour says

Australia's Cameron Smith won the British Open at St Andrews before joining LIV. ©AFP

Dubai (AFP) - Events on the LIV Golf breakaway circuit are set to be awarded world ranking points after a strategic alliance announced on Wednesday by the MENA Tour.

The Saudi-backed LIV Series has yet to be given ranking points.

From now on its tournaments will be co-sanctioned by the Middle East and North Africa Tour.

A statement from the MENA Tour, which like its new partner stages 54-hole events, said this week's Bangkok Invitational would be the first LIV event to earn Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points.

"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 LIV Golf president Atul Khosla.

LIV has already staged five events but without any ranking points awarded for its players -- including British Open champion Cameron Smith, former world number one Dustin Johnson and six-time major winner Phil Mickelson.

Smith, who only quit the PGA Tour after its season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs, is currently the highest-ranked LIV player as the world number three.

Johnson, who started 2022 in third place, has since slipped to 23rd, while four-time major champion Brooks Koepka has dropped to world number 32.

The top 50 players in the rankings qualify automatically for all four major tournaments.

"Do I look at it (rankings situation)?Yeah, I do, because I want to play the majors, and that's the way to get into the majors," world number 35 Kevin Na said in the build-up to the competition in Thailand starting on Friday.

"I strongly feel that we will get world ranking points, and I'm not too worried about that.

"I feel like it's just a matter of timing of when.I don't think it's an accurate world ranking without every tour and every player being ranked.I really believe that we're going to get it, and hopefully sooner than later.

"I'm not too worried about it."

Earlier this week, European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald said he hoped next year's matches in Rome would help "unify" the sport following the game's split.

LIV players have been banned from the PGA Tour, ruling out American players from qualifying for the 2023 Ryder Cup.

European stars to have left for LIV, including stalwarts Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia, have all plummeted down the world rankings and seem unlikely to make Donald's team.

English duo Westwood and Poulter have been teammates in LIV Golf's inaugural season.

"There's more of a team atmosphere (in LIV) like we would normally see at like a Ryder Cup, and because of that itself, it's much more enjoyable," said Poulter.

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