LIV Golf luminary Marc Leishman is urging a revision of the Olympic Games’ qualifying process, expressing concerns about his teammate Cameron Smith’s diminishing world ranking and the potential impact on Smith’s participation in the upcoming Paris Games.
Leishman and Smith represented Australia at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, but with the impending 2024 event, uncertainties loom for the Australian golf duo. Notably, LIV Golf, the breakaway league Smith joined last August, is yet to secure recognition from the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), complicating the qualification dynamics.
Under the current system, each country’s top two-ranked players secure spots in the Olympic event hosted at Le Golf National in Paris. However, the events organized by LIV Golf, including those participated in by Smith, have not been incorporated into the OWGR, resulting in a decline in Smith’s world ranking.
Initially ranked as the world’s second-best player when he joined LIV, Smith has slipped to 20th after participating in only seven OWGR-sanctioned events, including the four majors in 2023. Anticipating further descent, Leishman advocates for an adjustment in the rules to accommodate Smith’s return to the Olympic stage.
Expressing his sentiments, Leishman conveyed the challenges he faces in securing an Olympic berth and emphasized Smith’s standing as the clear-cut best Australian golfer. He voiced hopes that world rankings would not be the sole criteria for qualification, asserting that Smith deserves a place in the Olympics.
Following their participation in the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship in Brisbane, Smith and Leishman returned to DP World Tour action. Despite an opportunity to accumulate crucial ranking points, Smith faltered, missing the cut at Royal Queensland by a significant seven shots. Expressing disappointment, Smith acknowledged the inadequacy of his performance and underscored the need for commitment under pressure.
In contrast, Leishman fared better, securing a third-place finish in the tournament. The eventual champion, Min Woo Lee, emerged as a potential candidate to replace Smith and Leishman in the Australian Olympic lineup. Lee’s victory propelled him to 38th in the world rankings, marking a career-high position.
While Smith currently holds the top spot among Australian golfers at 20th, Jason Day closely trails at 21st. Min Woo Lee, Cam Davies, and Adam Scott secure positions in the top 50, with Lee’s remarkable ascent suggesting a potential reshuffling of the rankings in the coming months. The outcome of these developments will play a pivotal role in determining Australia’s representation at the Paris Olympic Games.