Home » Lynch: Greg Norman is gaslighting the gullible with laughable claim that world golf ranking is obsolete

Lynch: Greg Norman is gaslighting the gullible with laughable claim that world golf ranking is obsolete

The default strategy of blowhard narcissists is to declare any rules or institutions hindering their agenda to be invalid and unfair, an argument invariably mounted via a firehose of horseshit that’s nevertheless accepted by credulous conspiracy theorists. So it is with Greg Norman and the Official World Golf Ranking, which has declined to recognize Norman’s LIV Golf tournaments.

Gaslightin’ Greg says it’s “laughable” that LIV would feature just two of the world’s top 50 golfers if not for recent signings. The insinuation is obvious: the OWGR is discriminating against LIV, and the ranking is obsolete — charges dutifully repeated by his lunkhead loyalists, who probably think critical faculty refers to the frustrated high school teachers who couldn’t help them to a passing grade.

The OWGR denied LIV’s application for recognition last October, and the organization’s chairman, Peter Dawson, carefully explained the decision. Concerns included the relegation process, whereby a player who finishes 25th might lose status while one who finishes last doesn’t because he’s contractually exempt from being booted.

Another issue was LIV playing individual and team events simultaneously. Dawson singled out comments by Sebastian Munoz, who admitted he backed off a chance to win an individual title last spring so as to protect a lead in the team affair. The possibility of teammates being paired together was also raised, since those players might be incentivized to overlook untoward conduct (not that anyone at LIV has a reputation for dodgy rules infractions, right counselor Klayman?).

The OWGR signposted what steps LIV could take to be eligible for ranking points; LIV said it will not comply. Those are the basic facts. Norman, however, is relying on brazen misrepresentation. He claims the function of the OWGR is to rank the best golfers in the world. It is not. Its function is to rank the best golfers competing on tours whose competitive integrity can be vouched for. That’s a crucial caveat conveniently omitted by the flaxen-haired finger puppet.

Norman and LIV are clinging to the risible notion that golfers are entitled to ranking points on name recognition and reputation alone, as though star power renders irrelevant the competitive integrity of where they play. There are no stars competing on the Nordic Golf League and Big Easy Tour, but both are recognized by the OWGR because they observe the necessary criteria. LIV isn’t because it won’t, so Norman decries the legitimacy of the rules and even of the very ranking whose imprimatur he seeks, while insisting the majors must rewrite exemption criteria to accommodate his objectives.

2024 LIV Golf Mayakoba

Jon Rahm of Team Legion XIII, right, stands with LIV CEO Greg Norman on the first tee during the first round of the LIV Golf Mayakoba tournament at El Chamaleon Golf Course. (Photo: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports)

On Feb. 21, Augusta National Golf Club announced that invitations have been extended to three players not otherwise qualified for the Masters. One went to Joaquin Niemann, who recently won on the LIV tour then complained it wasn’t enough to exempt him into major championships (though winning the Seminole Pro-Member wouldn’t qualify a chap either). Niemann was No. 18 in the world when he signed with LIV and is now ranked 81st. The Masters was explicit about why the young Chilean was deserving of an invitation: the tournament’s desire to have representation from regions where golf is growing, and Niemann’s victory in the Australian Open, alongside several strong showings on the DP World Tour. His performances on LIV were not mentioned.

Thorbjorn Olesen also received a Masters invitation on the heels of a recent win and a handful of high finishes on the European circuit. Taken together, the message from Augusta National seems unambiguous: competing on LIV won’t prevent someone from being welcomed down Magnolia Lane in April, but competing almost exclusively on LIV while making no effort to meet the Masters’ established exemption criteria will.

The criticisms of the OWGR coming from the LIV quarter expose two realities: players who jumped despite knowing ranking points were not available are insisting on being insulated from the consequences of their decisions, and a CEO is frantically trying to blame others for his failure to deliver on false promises. Two weeks ago, Carlos Ortiz told a podcast that he was assured by LIV upon signing that he would earn world ranking points. Who do you suppose promised Ortiz something that wasn’t within his gift? Norman is waging a campaign against the ranking because players swallowed his guff as gospel and now realize they were sold a bill of goods, including by unscrupulous agents. That’s why more than 20 members of LIV’s roster are currently in Oman, searching the shallows of the Asian Tour for points..

Whatever the fate of LIV becomes down the road, its players are in a hole when it comes to accessing the championships that matter more than money, at least those dependent on world ranking for entry. And all the bluster in the world can’t disguise Greg Norman’s role in putting them there.