LIV Golf Celebrates Paltry PGA Championship Invites

Talor Gooch of LIV Golf

Getty Images Talor Gooch of LIV Golf

Sixteen LIV golfers received invites to the 2024 PGA Championship, scheduled for May 16-19, 2024, at the Valhalla Golf Course in Louisville.

While LIV Golf celebrated the news, many were surprised at how few invites LIV received. LIV golfers received 18 invites in 2023.

And in a now-deleted tweet, two-time PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson seemed to suggest that not inviting LIV golfers to participate in golf’s major events could backfire.

“What about next year when more great players join (LIV),” Mickelson posted on X, implying that keeping LIV golfers out would ultimately backfire on the PGA.

LIV Golf in Danger of Being Overshadowed

LIV’s Brooks Koepka is the reigning PGA Championship winner, and an odds-on favorite to repeat. And no doubt, Jon Rahm, the world No. 5, will make a run.

There’s a good chance that LIV, for all its bluster, could get overshadowed, and not just because they might falter as a group, like what happened at this year’s Masters.

First off, Tiger Woods is set to play. The four-time PGA champion won at this course in 2000. Viewers will tune in to see Tiger more than LIV.

Jordan Spieth is looking to complete the career Grand Slam. And despite his performance at the Master’s, where he finished +4, Rory McIlroy drew the crowds. And he won the PGA Championship at Valhalla in 2014.

Oh yes, and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler is currently resting as he looks to continue his domination. All of these stories have the potential to overshadow any and all LIV-related storylines.

Despite Phil Mickelson’s assertion, at least for this year, there appears to be enough overall talent, enough talent in the pipeline, enough competing stories, and enough top PGA golfers, that this could potentially become a make-or-break scenario for LIV.

If they perform poorly, or merely adequately, as a group, the majors may not need to fear losing sponsors or viewers if they don’t invite LIV golfers. The PGA Championship field list is strong, simply put.

A Workaround to World Rankings

Certainly, the PGA Championship wants to maintain its reputation for having the world’s very best golfers in the tournament. So why then would LIV’s Talor Gooch, currently rated No. 644 in the world, get a special exemption to play?

Because, as SI’s John Schwarb suggested, the PGA is willing to overlook Official World Golf Rankings. True. Since joining LIV Golf in 2022, Gooch has been one of the league’s best, even being named LIV Golf’s Player of the Year in 2023. While playing little outside of LIV.

Gooch’s selection suggests that the PGA is closely monitoring LIV golfer performance, at least individual performance.

The Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) does not recognize LIV events in its rankings methodology. The full effect of this has yet to hit.

As Kerry Haigh, the managing director of championship for the PGA of America, has stated, “If players are deserving, hopefully we would invite them,” even if their OWGR doesn’t officially merit an invitation.

While fans of LIV Golf are generally pleased that sixteen players got exemptions, the reliance on multiple lists, special invitations, and veiled threats–from both sides–is not helping.

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