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LIV Golf Invitational Series: Richard Bland, Branden Grace, Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra lead in Bangkok

LIV Golf members will not receive Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points this season, despite a strategic alliance with the MENA Tour; three players share the lead on seven under after the opening round in Bangkok

Last Updated: 07/10/22 10:56am


Richard Bland carded a seven-under 65 to share the early lead in Bangkok

Richard Bland is part of a three-way tie for the lead after a low-scoring opening round at the latest LIV Golf Invitational Series event in Bangkok.

The Englishman fired seven birdies on his way to an opening-round 65 at Stonehill Golf Club to share top spot with South Africa’s Branden Grace and Spain’s Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra.

Lopez-Chacarra made five birdies in a seven-hole stretch and Grace birdied three of his last four holes to also make a blemish-free start and get to seven under, while Marc Leishman and Ian Poulter sit a shot back after opening-round 66s.

Branden Grace is one off the pace as he chases a second LIV Golf victory of the season

Branden Grace is one off the pace as he chases a second LIV Golf victory of the season

Brooks Koepka opened with a bogey-free 67 to be part of a group of five players sharing sixth spot, with Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell all starting with four-under 68s to leave them tied-11th.

Dustin Johnson, who leads the money list with just over $12.5m in five events, posted a two-under 70. Cameron Smith, winner of the most recent LIV Golf event in Chicago, is tied-41st after a level-par 72.

Dustin Johnson believes it is fair that LIV Tour players should earn official world ranking points but does not expect retrospective points from first five events of the LIV series

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Dustin Johnson believes it is fair that LIV Tour players should earn official world ranking points but does not expect retrospective points from first five events of the LIV series

Dustin Johnson believes it is fair that LIV Tour players should earn official world ranking points but does not expect retrospective points from first five events of the LIV series

In the team competition, Fireballs GC – led by Sergio Garcia and containing Lopez-Chacarra – hold a one-shot lead on 14 under over Cleeks GC. The 4 Aces GC, chasing a fifth consecutive victory, are 10th of the 12 teams.

LIV Golfers to miss out on world ranking points this season

Before the start of play, players learned they will still be unable to accrue ranking points on the LIV Golf Invitational Series this season, despite the new ‘strategic alliance’ between the breakaway circuit and the MENA Tour.

The Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) said in a statement on Thursday that the MENA Tour did not give sufficient notice for points to be awarded at the remaining LIV Golf events this season, with a decision on awarding ranking points only being made “following a review”.

Phil Mickelson is happy to have full support from LIV Golf as they work with the MENA Tour to try and bolster their hopes of earning world golf ranking points

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Phil Mickelson is happy to have full support from LIV Golf as they work with the MENA Tour to try and bolster their hopes of earning world golf ranking points

Phil Mickelson is happy to have full support from LIV Golf as they work with the MENA Tour to try and bolster their hopes of earning world golf ranking points

MENA Tour commissioner David Spencer released a statement in response to the OWGR’s decision and insisted the LIV Golf tournament in Bangkok fitted the criteria for world ranking points.

The statement read: “We have had various communications with OWGR since submitting our 2022/23 schedule, MENA Tour handbook, exemption criteria and our field ahead of our opening event of our new season which tees off today.

“None of this communication pointed towards any technical reason for the LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok to be treated any differently to any MENA Tour event, every one of which has received OWGR since we were accepted into the OWGR framework in 2016.

Jamie Weir explains how LIV Golf may have found a loophole involving the MENA Tour, when it comes to its members receiving world ranking points

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Jamie Weir explains how LIV Golf may have found a loophole involving the MENA Tour, when it comes to its members receiving world ranking points

Jamie Weir explains how LIV Golf may have found a loophole involving the MENA Tour, when it comes to its members receiving world ranking points

“We have followed the OWGR guidelines for our 2022/23 season. Recently, there has been much talk in the golf world about limited field tournaments and 54-hole tournaments. For absolute clarity, the OWGR itself defines a limited field tournament as a tournament which has less than 30 qualified players. Furthermore, the MENA Tour has always had the OWGR’s blessing to stage 54- hole tournaments.

“The OWGR states: ‘The primary objective of the Ranking is to maintain, review, update, administer and promote the recognition of a system that fairly ranks the relative performance of golfers participating in the leading men’s professional tournaments throughout the world’.

“Clearly, the MENA Tour’s first event of the 2022/23 season, the LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok, is one of those tournaments and accordingly should be included in this week’s OWGR events. Not including our event in this week’s OWGR render the results and subsequent player movements inaccurate.”



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