With a question mark hanging over the future of LIV golfers in men's Majors, Patrick Brennan questions whether excluding them will be a good idea in the long run
For those who haven’t been following, LIV Golf has caused an upset in the professional game. The PGA Tour has responded in kind, raising financial benefits for their events, prioritising some ‘designated’ events over others, and excluding any LIV Golfers from their fields, leading to lawsuits, fines and resignations.
Now, the only time all the world's male golfers come together is at the four major championships.
The PGA Championship really should be the best of the best – it does not have amateurs contending, nor is there open qualifying. Only 18 LIV Golfers have qualified for the second Major of the year. After Martin Kaymer announced he will not play, only 17 will tee it up at Oak Hill.
So, what exactly does qualify a golfer to play for a chance to win the Wanamaker trophy at Oak Hill this week? The 156 selected to compete must satisfy one or more of the following criteria:
- Ranked among the top 100 in the OWGR
- Past champion at the PGA Championship
- Any major winner in the last five seasons
- Players Championship winner in the last three seasons
- The low 15 scorers and ties in the previous PGA Championship.
- The 70 leaders in PGA Championship points list (based on official money earned on the PGA Tour since the previous PGA Championship).
- The current Senior PGA Champion.
- The 20 low scorers in the PGA Professional Championship
- Any tournament winner co-sponsored or approved by the PGA Tour since the previous PGA Championship.
At least, on paper. The PGA of America also reserves the right to invite any player who would’ve otherwise come up short – which allowed Paul Casey to bag a spot in the field.
The most secure among the LIV Golfers are the trio of past champions:
- Phil Mickelson (2005, 2021)
- Brooks Koepka (2018, 2019)
- Martin Kaymer (2010) has pulled out of this week’s event.
All of whom have lifetime exemptions, regardless of where they play their golf during the rest of the year.
Previous major success: in the past five seasons for Bryson DeChambeau (US Open, 2020), Dustin Johnson (Masters, 2020), Cameron Smith (Open Champion, 2022) means they also have a spot for the next couple of events.
OWGR: Talor Gooch captured headlines this month as we realised despite his stellar play on the LIV Tour, he may not qualify for the U.S. Open in June. He is in the world’s top 100, and therefore has a place at Oak Hill this week. The same applies to:
- Harold Varner III
- Joaquin Niemann
- Thomas Pieters
- Anirbhan Lahiri
- Patrick Reed (Reed won the 2018 Masters, but since the 2023 event has been played already, he is no longer in the last five winners. Time flies.)
- Dean Burmester
- Mito Pereira - could we forget his tie for third last year due to a collapse on the 72nd hole.
- Abe Ancer and Brendan Steele also qualifies based on Top 10 finishes at Southern Hills last year.
- Sihwan Kim provides a unique case. Kim won the Asian Tour Order of Merit, meaning he is ranked 3rd on the ‘Federation of International Tours’ list, newly introduced in 2023 as an exemption criterion for the PGA.
It often looks like we see the same names at every major, but the landscape will start to shift with the current eligibility criteria. If LIV Golfers are to be denied world ranking points, this drastically affects the outcome of major fields beyond 2025. The inclusion of strong performers from the Asian and Australasian Tour help to bring in players from all over, but excluding LIV Golfers may not be the best thing for the majors as a product.
What do you think?
Meet Patrick Brennan
Patrick is originally from the Lake District, UK but moved to British Columbia, Canada after university. He writes for several media outlets, including Golficity, and has been doing so for over six months.
His main writing interests are professional golf tours, the Majors and any good underdog story!
He comes from a sporting family and, when not cycling or skiing, plays off a six handicap - trying and failing to keep the family bragging rights, often due to a streaky driver!