As Phil Mickelson drops outside top 200, a look at notable LIV players’ 2022 movements in world rankings

As Phil Mickelson drops outside top 200, a look at notable LIV players’ 2022 movements in world rankings
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A year ago, few would have predicted that so many of golf’s most notable names would plummet in the Official World Golf Ranking. 

However, 12 months ago, LIV Golf — the most hot-button topic of 2022 — was merely an idea and a threat. But when the Saudi-backed league came to fruition this summer and poached 12 of the last 26 major winners, those players forfeited receiving world ranking points as LIV events do not currently offer them, though the tour has applied for such designation. 

The most famed player to join LIV — Phil Mickelson — had one of the most dramatic falls. In early December, the 52-year-old, who won the PGA Championship in May 2021 to become the oldest major winner ever, dropped out of the top 200 for the first time since 1992. He’s currently No. 213. 

Mickelson fell out of the top 100 in March 2021 before winning the PGA, which propelled him to No. 32. However, since then, his best finish in any full-field event that offered world ranking points was a T-18 at February’s PIF Saudi International. 

Dustin Johnson, who was world No. 1 entering the 2021 U.S. Open and started ’22 No. 3, fell out of the top 20 in August for the first time in seven years and is now No. 41 — his lowest ranking since 2010. 

Sergio Garcia had been inside the top 100 since 1999, when he was 19 years old. But in late November, the 42-year-old fell outside that threshold, ending a streak that spanned 23 years and 21 weeks. 

What about Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau? Well, Koepka, who started the year at No. 16, dropped to No. 52, sitting outside the top 50 for the first time in eight years. DeChambeau began 2022 fifth, however, by April, injuries attributed to him falling outside the top 20 for the first time since August 2018. He’s now No. 67. 

In 2021, Louis Oosthuizen placed top 3 in three of the four majors. But by the end of 2022, the South African was on the brink of missing 75% of 2023’s majors (he has an exemption into The Open Championship through age 60 as the 2010 winner) after falling to No. 51. However, his T-7 at the DP World Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Championship a few weeks ago moved him on the cutline at No. 50. 

Here are other notables who slid in the world rankings since bolting for the Saudi-backed circuit: 

Player OWGR rank to start 2022 Rank to finish ’22
Joaquin Niemann 19 22
Abraham Ancer 22 32
Paul Casey 31 58
Kevin Na 34 49
Talor Gooch 35 40
Jason Kokrak 36 47
Patrick Reed 39 72
Richard Bland 67 90
Matt Jones 69 110
Matthew Wolff 77 151
Lee Westwood 78 164
Ian Poulter 92 143
Bernd Wiesberger 94 123
Carlos Ortiz 119 230
Charles Howell III 169 265
Henrik Stenson 173 197
Martin Kaymer 215 476
Graeme McDowell 374 403

Meanwhile, a few names didn’t drop or even increased their world rankings, such as Harold Varner III, James Piot, Chase Koepka, Travis Smyth, Scott Vincent, Sadom Kaewkanjana and Adrián Otaegui, who won the DP World Tour’s Andalucía Masters in October. 

Last but not least, the best player to join LIV Golf — Cam Smith. He won The Players Championship and the 150th Open this year, before defecting after the FedExCup playoffs. After his triumph at St. Andrews, the 29-year-old was second in the world. 

Smith has fallen only one spot since, thanks in part to his November victory at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship, a DP World Tour-sanctioned event. 

Though Smith, along with all of his fellow LIV players, would like to receive world ranking points, the Aussie isn’t sweating it too much. 

“Since joining (LIV), I feel not having any points has definitely hurt me a fair bit,” Smith said ahead of the Australian PGA. “Especially with the golf, I’ve been playing some really, really solid golf. Yeah, it’s a bit of a pain.” 

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