Patrick Reed was one of a handful of defectors to enter the Match Play to find their applications blocked. But isn't entry based on world rankings? Matt Chivers explains
The WGC-Dell Match Play pits the best 64 players against each other in a series of head-to-head combats to see who comes out on top after a long week at Austin Country Club.
At least it’s meant to.
The field for the Match Play is decided by the Official World Golf Ranking, and with Justins Thomas and Rose preferring to stay on the same time zone as Augusta National between the Florida swing and the Masters, that means 65th and 66th are in.
And guess who they are? Yes, it’s Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed, of course.
The pair are two of nine players LIV Golf players ranked in the top 66, along with the likes of Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann, and Talor Gooch.
So why can’t they play? LIV golfers Johnson, Ian Poulter, Bubba Watson and Henrik Stenson are, after all, former Match Play champions.
Well, it’s pretty simple. As Sports Illustrated explain, the event is co-sanctioned by both the PGA Tour and the International Federation of PGA Tours, from which LIV Golf players are banned.
But then it gets more complicated, because the DP World Tour also co-sanctions the World Golf Championship events, and as we are awaiting the result of the arbitration case concerning the eligibility of LIV players on the DP World Tour, they are still allowed to compete on the circuit.
But the PGA Tour is standing firm, and although Reed and a number of LIV players entered the Match Play, they were denied as the application terms state it is “subject to acceptance by the Host Tour and the International Federation of PGA Tours” and players “may be rejected or revoked by either without liability at any time before or after commencement of Tournament play if a player fails to meet the eligibility requirements – (or) violates any of the Tournament Regulations of the Host Tour”.
The PGA Tour maintains the rebels have violated its rules on participating in conflicting events, so therefore, they aren’t eligible to play in the fifth $20 million-plus event of 2023.
With the revamped designated schedule being played out, and with even more changes on their way in 2024, the concept of World Golf Championships is set to end this week with the Match Play not expected to return next year.