HOYLAKE, England (AP) — With the future of LIV Golf still uncertain, Joaquin Niemann was among players who arrived for the British Open facing the prospect of no more majors in his immediate future.
LIV Golf still doesn’t get world ranking points, and players have been dropping. With the next major not until April in the Masters, some of them might not have a way back except through qualifying for the U.S. Open or British Open.
It remains unclear when — or if — the recent proposal of a partnership with the PGA Tour would change anything.
“This might be my last year playing majors because of the world rankings,” said Niemann, currently No. 43 in the world. “They are not doing it right. I hope they change it. They have to find a way to have the best players out here.”
LIV Golf submitted an application last July to become part of the world rankings but there have been issues with the criteria because LIV has no cut, only 54 holes and the same 48 players each week. The OWGR board meets this week but there has been no indication any decision will be reached.
Only the top 50 in the world qualified for the Open this week. The other two LIV players in the top 50 playing at Royal Liverpool are defending champion Cameron Smith (No. 7) and PGA champion Brooks Koepka (No. 12), both exempt by winning majors.
“It’s hard to keep everybody happy, I understand that,” said Abraham Ancer, who is now ranked 68th. “I’m sure when everybody comes together they’ll have a good way to try to keep everybody happy. But we’ll see what happens. What it’s all about is having the best players in the world at the moment playing in these events.”
Ancer said he would try not to worry too much about the rankings this week. Majors are the only tournaments LIV players get points. They also can play small tours, but those points are minimal and make it difficult to move up.
Other LIV players who might not be eligible for future majors are Thomas Pieters and Talor Gooch, who has three wins in the LIV Golf League. He fell out of the top 100 this week.
“I’m not going to add more pressure,” Ancer said. “It’s already a major and you definitely feel the nerves of a major. Just knowing that playing good helps and then we will figure out what happens. I’m not seeing this as my last major.”
Niemann said he would try to play it just like any other major weekend.
“Obviously we are happy to be here, it’s a major,” he said. “It’s a week every golfer dreams to be here. Just going to enjoy it as one of them.”
A top-10 finish at the British Open will allow players to return to the tournament next year. A top 4 gets them back to the Masters.
LIV players such as Smith, Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson are exempt in majors next year as past champions, as is Patrick Reed at the Masters, which gives lifetime exemptions for its winners.
Major champions get five-year exemptions into the other majors. Reed, who is No. 51 in the world, would have to go through qualifying if he wants to play the British Open next year.