Of the 156 golfers in the field for the 2023 PGA Championship last week, 16 played for the LIV Golf League. Eleven players made the weekend cut – including winner Brooks Koepka – and five went on to finish inside the top 20.
With Rochester, New York’s Oak Hill Country Club in the rearview and Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, faintly on the horizon, how many LIV players should we expect to see at the 2024 PGA Championship? As it stands now, not many.
Major championships can change their qualification criteria at their discretion, which golf fans recently witnessed with the USGA-Talor Gooch debacle. For the sake of this exercise, we’re going to assume the PGA of America will use the same 13 qualification criteria (and special invitations) for 2024 as it did for 2023.
Here’s how it shakes out:
Former PGA champions
Phil Mickelson and Koepka have lifetime exemptions, so get used to seeing them.
Winners of the last five U.S. Opens
Bryson DeChambeau won the 2020 U.S Open, making him exempt to the PGA until 2025.
Winners of the last five Masters
Dustin Johnson also won in 2020, so he’s also exempt in the PGA until 2025.
Winners of the last five Open Championships
Cameron Smith is in until the 2027 PGA after his performance last summer at St. Andrews in the Open.
Winners of the last three Players Championships
Smith is also double-dipping with his Players win last spring.
Top 3 on the Official World Golf Ranking International Federation Ranking List
Sihwan Kim, perennially at the bottom of the LIV leaderboards, is currently third on this list via his Asian Tour status. LIV has invested $300 million in the Asian Tour and created its International Series, where a certain number of LIV players are required to compete. Don’t expect more than one player to qualify this way.
The current Senior PGA Champion
Richard Bland, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood are LIV’s only members of the 50-and-over club, and none will be in the field for this week’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, May 24-28, at PGA Frisco in Texas.
The low 15 scorers and ties in the previous PGA Championship
Players could have qualified via this exemption, like club pro Michael Block, but the three who qualified inside the top 15 (Koepka, DeChambeau, Smith), are already qualified for 2024. Just missing out were Patrick Reed (T-18), Mito Pereira (T-18) and Harold Varner III (T-29)
The 20 low scorers in the last PGA Professional Championship
LIV players won’t compete in this event. Next.
The 70 leaders in PGA Championship points list
The list is based off official money earned on the PGA Tour since the previous PGA Championship. If you haven’t been following closely, a few lawsuits are ongoing that will keep this from happening.
Members of the most recent U.S. and European Ryder Cup Teams who are inside the top 100 of the OWGR one week before the PGA Championship
Because of the struggle to earn qualification points, LIV players are almost assuredly going to have to be captains picks if they have any shot at making the U.S. or European teams for the upcoming Ryder Cup later this fall in Italy. Future sure-fire captains such as Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter recently resigned their DP World Tour memberships, removing them from consideration to represent Team Europe.
Any tournament winner co-sponsored or approved by the PGA Tour since the previous PGA Championship
LIV’s antitrust lawsuit against the Tour and the Tour’s countersuit almost assuredly won’t be decided by next spring, so this criteria is also a wash.
That means using last year’s criteria and this year’s event, just five players – Koepka, DeChambeau, Smith, Johnson and Mickelson – are currently slated to make an appearance at Valhalla in 2024. The PGA Championship could create a category for LIV Golf players to qualify, but as it stands now, the only chance other players have to qualify is with a special invitation, by winning one of the next three majors or the Players, making a 2023 Ryder Cup team or via the International Federation Ranking List.
A player, like Thomas Pieters for example, who is already qualified could also take his talents from one of the tours to LIV Golf between now and next spring. That said, the rumor mill for defections to the Saudi Arabia-backed league has gone silent this season.
For now, we wait and see.