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MENA Tour says golf rankings 'inaccurate' without LIV events

Australia's Cameron Smith (right) won the LIV Golf Invitational Chicago in September 2022. ©AFP

Bangkok (AFP) - Failure to award world-ranking points at the Saudi-backed LIV Golf event in Thailand starting on Friday renders the rankings "inaccurate", the MENA Tour said on Friday.

The Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) organisation said on Thursday that players will not receive ranking points in Bangkok or at another LIV tournament in Jeddah next week.

It came after the rebel LIV series teamed up with the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Tour in a strategic alliance between the circuits so that LIV players could earn ranking points.

OWGR subsequently rejected that, saying it had been given insufficient notice and needed to do a review, the latest chapter in a bitter civil war which has torn golf apart and sparked accusations of Saudi "sportswashing".

The top 50 players in the rankings qualify automatically for all four major tournaments.LIV Golf is not currently recognised by OWGR, meaning LIV players tumble down the rankings.

The MENA Tour, which had been inactive since the start of the pandemic in 2020 but relaunched with LIV in Bangkok this week, hit back at the OWGR's decision.

"Not including our event in this week's OWGR render the results and subsequent player movements inaccurate," David Spencer, commissioner of the MENA Tour, said in a statement.

Spencer added that "we will continue to work tirelessly to resolve this situation with the OWGR".

LIV, which offers record $25 million purses, has already staged five events in its inaugural year.

But no ranking points have been awarded to its players, including British Open champion Cameron Smith, former world number one Dustin Johnson and six-time major winner Phil Mickelson.

Golfers on the rebel circuit 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 Luke Donald's team for the two-yearly contest, which takes place near Rome.

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