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LIV Golfers ruled out from Precedential Cup 2024

The PGA Tour recently announced new qualifying criteria for the 2024 Presidents Cup that will make LIV Golf players ineligible to compete.

The new rules require players to earn Official World Golf Ranking points in order to qualify for the international team, which bars LIV golfers since the Saudi-backed circuit does not currently award ranking points.

The decision represents the latest salvo in the ongoing battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. It directly targets LIV players after several notable defectors competed for the international team in the most recent 2022 Presidents Cup.

Background of the Divide Between LIV Golf and PGA Tour

LIV Golf burst onto the professional golf scene in early 2022, backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The upstart circuit, led by CEO Greg Norman, threw unprecedented amounts at players, luring major champions like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Bryson DeChambeau with massive signing bonuses and guaranteed money.

LIV Golf runs 54-hole events with no cuts and a team component. But the circuit remains controversial given Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and accusations of sportswashing.

In response to LIV Golf poaching talent, the PGA Tour issued lifetime bans to all defectors. Several LIV players [including Mickelson] sued the Tour for anticompetitive behavior.

The bitter feud between the two tours came to a head at the 2022 Presidents Cup in September, where both sides lobbied unsuccessfully for bans on the other. Several LIV golfers competed for the international team against the American squad.

Overview of the Presidents Cup Format

The Presidents Cup is a biennial team competition featuring top international players from outside Europe against the U.S. It was founded in 1994 and has been held 14 times, with the U.S. winning 11 of them.

The international and American teams are led by captains, who make pairings and manage strategy. Each team consists of 12 players who qualify based on world rankings and other criteria.

Eligibility for the international team is more complex than the American side. Up until 2024, international players qualified by:

  • Being inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking
  • Being inside the top 30 and having played in a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup within the last 10 years
  • Being a captain’s pick

Now, stricter criteria focusing on world ranking points aim to freeze out LIV Golf defectors.

New Ranking Points Requirement Targets LIV Golfers

Under newly announced qualifying rules, international players must accumulate world ranking points during a two-year period leading up to the 2024 Presidents Cup in order to be eligible.

This poses a direct issue for LIV golfers, as LIV events do not currently qualify for world ranking points. The upstart tour has been seeking ways to be included in the ranking system, but no agreement has yet been reached.

In essence, PGA Tour officials deliberately fashioned eligibility rules to forbid players who left for LIV from qualifying for the 2024 international squad.

The reasoning was clearly articulated by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in a memo detailing the Presidents Cup changes:

“LIV golfers are not earning world ranking points and intentionally chose to no longer be members of our Tour. Given that they did not qualify for the 2022 Presidents Cup under the actual world ranking system, we do not intend to alter our usual qualifying process for the 2024 Presidents Cup.”

Monahan also cited “unfair discrepancies” given LIV’s guaranteed money and reduced schedule compared to the grind of the PGA Tour season.

Top International Players Impacted by LIV Ban

Several top-ranked golfers who were stalwarts for past international Presidents Cup teams are now affiliated with LIV Golf and thus barred from the 2024 edition:

  • Cameron Smith (OWGR #4) – Won Presidents Cup with international team in 2019 and 2021. Recently won 2022 Open Championship and defected to LIV soon after.
  • Joaquin Niemann (OWGR #15) – Young Chilean talent competed in 2019 Presidents Cup. Joined LIV in August 2022.
  • Marc Leishman (OWGR #62) – 5-time Presidents Cup veteran and winner of the 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
  • Anirban Lahiri (OWGR #92) – Indian golfer qualified for 2022 Presidents Cup team but could miss out in 2024 after moving to LIV.
  • Harold Varner III (OWGR #102) – Played in the international team’s win in 2021 but not eligible after becoming a LIV charter member.

The collective talent drain will severely hamper the international team’s chances against the Americans. Captain Trevor Immelman will be without several of his top options.

Perspective from LIV Golf on Exclusion from Presidents Cup

LIV Golf leadership unsurprisingly had harsh words for the PGA Tour’s qualifying changes that prohibit their players from taking part in the Presidents Cup:

“Not allowing our players the chance to qualify for major events only hurts the image of the sport,” said LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman in a statement, calling the Tour’s move “vindictive.”

Norman added that no players should be “banned” because of where they choose to play and that the PGA Tour is damaging golf with their “one-way conversation.”

Charter member Pat Perez insisted LIV still wants to work with the major tours, but categorized the Presidents Cup ban as retribution:

“The only reason we’re banned is because they think we’re getting paid too much money. It’s never been about anything else.”

LIV players believe they should remain eligible for international team competitions based on merit and feel unfairly blacklisted. They argue fans want to see elite talents compete regardless of tour affiliation.

Legal challenges may arise around eligibility for golf’s major championships or Ryder Cup to prevent further “punishment” of LIV golfers.

What Does This Mean for Future Presidents Cups?

The PGA Tour’s hardline stance on banning LIV golfers will have a lasting impact beyond 2024 if the conflict remains unresolved.

By preventing world ranking points, LIV players could be excluded indefinitely as the Presidents Cup criteria solidify. This creates a long-term strategic disadvantage for the international side.

If LIV Golf fades or folds in the next few years, bans become moot as players return to PGA Tour events. But LIV is aggressively expanding and not going away in the foreseeable future.

Upcoming captains will lack options seen as integral parts of past international teams. Cohesion and chemistry could suffer with untested new faces against seasoned American squads.

The Presidents Cup itself could be devalued if viewed as a lopsided affair due to weakened international teams. Both sides want to defeat the best possible competition.

What’s Next in LIV Golf’s Push for Legitimacy?

Being locked out of the Presidents Cup and other team events is another blow, but LIV Golf remains committed to joining the major tour establishment even if the door is now slammed shut.

LIV is actively trying to earn coveted Official World Golf Ranking points—the tour’s white whale. Greg Norman stated that not integrating LIV into the world rankings damages their integrity.

Talks are underway with the England-based DP World Tour to potentially form a “strategic alliance” in 2023. Such a partnership could pave the way for OWGR inclusion.

LIV is also still pursuing a rumored merger with the Asian Tour, which is officially recognized by the world rankings. Co-sanctioned events would provide a viable path to points.

If LIV events earn world ranking status, bans from Presidents Cups and Ryder Cups become harder to justify or legally enforce.

Players may also ramp up antitrust lawsuits around eligibility if excluded from majors like the Masters based on organizational affiliations.

Final Verdict on LIV Golfers’ Ineligibility

The PGA Tour has plainly drawn a line in the sand—LIV golfers will be barred from Presidents Cup participation for choosing instant guaranteed riches over the traditional path with LIV Golfers ruled out from Precedential Cup.

LIV is an existential threat poaching top talents, so the Tour is using its biggest team event as leverage for now.

But banning players solely due to tour affiliation could irrevocably damage golf’s competitive integrity if LIV establishes itself long-term.

Excluding controversial but in-form talents like Cam Smith from team competitions deprives fans of seeing elite stars square off.

Hope remains for reconciliation and a unified golf environment where top players from all tours qualify based on rankings. But the PGA Tour currently holds the upper hand in shutting out those taking Saudi money.

The LIV Golf experiment has only intensified divides across the professional game. Renewed cooperation seems unlikely anytime soon.

For now, LIV golfers will remain on the outside looking in at traditional team events. But they won’t fade away quietly—and the power struggle for golf’s soul continues.

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