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After a two-year gap Rory McIlroy is back where his talents deserve him to be – at No 1 in the world. Rarely has he played such consistent golf. While another Major victory continues to elude him, McIlroy has recorded three wins in 2022 and has finished in the top 10 in two-thirds of the 21 events he has played.

No one could argue that he has not earned the accolade of being world No 1 and reaching that summit again – for the ninth time – means a lot to him. Yet heading the rankings is arguably worth less now than at any time since the system’s introduction 36 years ago, as golf’s uncivil war is causing its status to be diminished by the week.

As LIV Golf finishes its inaugural season, there are still no ranking points awarded for any of its events – and that deliberate oversight is causing a growing distortion. Look down the rankings and you have to go all the way to No 30 to find Dustin Johnson.

That is despite the American winning the inaugural individual title – and more than $30million – this season. You would have to search hard to find 29 better golfers on the planet than Johnson.

Likewise, Brooks Koepka. He is now officially No 39 in the world, which is hardly an accurate reflection of his true standing in the game. Or Bryson DeChambeau, who is rather better than No 52.

Whether you care for a brash start-up backed by Saudi money and Donald Trump or not, the fact is that the quality of its fields is comfortably superior to that of the European Tour, the Asian Tour and every other tour bar the PGA Tour.

In fact, if you could find coverage of its team championship on YouTube over the weekend you would have recognised many more of the golfers competing in the LIV jamboree at Doral than at the PGA Tour’s Bermuda Championship. They are playing for huge money – $50m – but still no points.

LIV have tried every means possible to trigger the award of points. They have been polite to the Official World Golf Rankings, the body that makes the decision, and also been rude to them. They have persuaded their players to write to OWGR and join forces with the Middle East and North Africa Tour where points are given out for 54-hole, no-cut events like LIV’s. But all to no avail.

For the rebels the slide down the rankings continues. McIlroy’s stance is that they are reaping what they have sown. He has a point but when a system put in place to rate the world’s best golfers cold-shoulders 48 of them it begins to look unfit for purpose.

In their letter to OWGR head Peter Dawson – the former R&A chief executive – the players likened the situation to FIFA missing out Belgium, Argentina and England from their rankings. OWGR is populated by golf’s establishment figures, including the chief executive of the PGA Tour Jay Monahan, and it is in the establishment’s interest to hold the line.

It isn’t hard to see their logic, because freezing out the rebels in this way is one of the few cards the traditionalists have to counter any further defections. But an unintended consequence of that tactic is that it also risks undermining the Majors.

While each of the four crown jewels has its own qualification regimen, they all to some degree pull from the world rankings. LIV players without exemptions will start to fall off the invitation lists soon. Paul Casey will drop out of the world’s top 50 next month which will mean he misses next year’s Masters – as will Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.

As the impasse continues more and more of the LIVerati will fall by the wayside. Is this really what the guardians of golf want?

It may feel instinctively satisfying as just punishment for the traitors – but the Majors should be for the best of the best whatever their alignment. They may have to hold their noses while doing it but they should let LIV in all the same.



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