Decision to LIV it up in Augusta is the right call – let the best play the best

Ronan MacNamara

Cameron Smith (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

A penny for the thoughts of Louis Oosthuizen… 

It’s been quite the few days for the South African whose Masters fate was out of his control as he relied on events in Mauritius of all places to determine his Masters journey. 

The 2012 Augusta runner-up was reliant on compatriot Dean Burmester not winning the AfrBank Asia Mauritius Open in the last DP World Tour event of the year. Burmy dazzled and impressed but unfortunately for him it was with Houdini escapes from trees and shrubbery and not with a jaunt at the title and a debut at the Masters. 


On Sunday Louis was in, provisionally, but now it’s confirmed that he will play the 2023 Masters after Augusta announced that the eligibility criteria would not change which means the LIV boys are in and will cruise down Magnolia Lane in April. 

I believe this is the right decision. I believe the LIV golfers should be allowed play in the major championships, I believe they stand alone and I am excited about the dynamic this could create in golfs big four events. 

Not everybody will agree with me, both fans and players alike, but in the absence of the LIV rebels from PGA Tour events I feel their presence in the majors will bring a something to the occasion – just God forbid they would win one! 

When I go to a major championship I want to see the best players in action, that’s why you go to any sporting event right? You want to see as many of the best players possible. 

While Rory McIlroy and Greg Norman have been at each other’s throats, Pádraig Harrington was a consistent voice of reason throughout the year and I agree with him that those who are part of the Saudi backed organisation should play in the major championships. 

“But I strongly believe the majors should stay above everything,” said Harrington ahead of the BMW PGA Championship in September. “I would not want to turn up at a major and not play against the best players in the world. They need to say, ‘We’re above all this’. 

“I want to see the best players playing in the majors so they need to figure that out,” he said at the Horizon Irish Open. “The majors are outside the tours I believe they stand alone and I don’t believe that anybody should be restricted from playing in a major golf tournament. Whatever ranking they do figure out it should be the best players.  

“It’s completely different than your allegiance to a tour so I wouldn’t push the sanctions against majors. It would be pretty cool from the outside in two or three years you could have Rory going up against DJ and that could only happen in the majors which is pretty cool for the majors.” 

It would be very cool to see Rory paired with someone from LIV and given how his 2022 went, the presence of LIV players in the field can only be a good thing for him to keep the fire in the belly burning and spur him on to a first major title in nine years. 

As it stands, Abraham Ancer, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Talor Gooch, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Jason Kokrak, Phil Mickelson, Kevin Na, Joaquin Niemann, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwartzel, Cameron Smith, Harold Varner III and Bubba Watson are all pencilled in to compete at Augusta. 

Reliable each way Masters bets Paul Casey and Marc Leishman look set to miss out as long as LIV players can’t earn sufficient World Ranking points while Ian Poulter and Bernd Wiesberger are all but guaranteed to miss out. 

Lee Westwood’s majorless career looks set to continue at a lowly 156th in the world rankings as he becomes more irrelevant as the days go by. 

You could argue that the lack of ranking points for LIV players will cleanse major championship fields of the deadwood that Sky Sports like to parade and hype up for nostalgia four times a year. 

Essentially, the LIV players who are playing the Masters in 2023 are those who are exempt and it’s a reflection on those who have been the best players over the last five years and that can only be good for the quality of golf on show in the majors next year. 

It’s been a case of out of sight, out of mind. Perhaps my stance on LIV has been softened just because I genuinely don’t give a passing glance to the likes of Smith and DJ and it wouldn’t hurt to see them four times a year. 

The current outlook is a bleak one for the LIV golfers outside of the top-50 so it’s very unlikely any more LIV players will make it to Augusta but would we want any more?

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