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Joaquin Niemann wins LIV Mayakoba, drops in OWGR: Should LIV golfers be allowed in majors?

Joaquin Niemann won the first LIV Golf event of the year, and yet, he does not have a spot in any of the four majors in 2024.

Joaquin Niemann, LIV Golf
Joaquin Niemann warms up before the final round of the LIV Golf Mayakoba event.
Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Joaquin Niemann won LIV Golf Mayakoba, triumphing over Sergio Garcia in a thrilling four-hole playoff to kick off LIV’s 2024 season.

Yet, despite the victory, Niemann dropped in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) from 66th to 74th.

Meanwhile, on the PGA Tour, Wyndham Clark’s record-setting 12-under 60 at Pebble Beach vaulted him to victory. As such, Clark ascended to 6th in the world, up from 10th.

The reigning U.S. Open champion will get to play in the majors this season, but right now, Niemann is on the outside looking in.

“I want to win majors,” Niemann said immediately after defeating Garcia. “But I gotta get in first.”

No doubt, Niemann has the talent to not only play in, but win a major championship. Last year, he tied for 16th at the Masters and tied for 32nd at the U.S. Open at the Los Angeles Country Club. He missed the cut at Oak Hill and Royal Liverpool, however.

Joaquin Niemann, Greg Norman, LIV Golf
Joaquin Niemann shakes hands with LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman.
Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

The PGA of America typically invites all players ranked within the top 100 of the OWGR, and Niemann played in the PGA Championship last year because he received a special invitation. But should he continue to slide down the rankings, and fall out of the top 100, Niemann likely will not tee it up at Valhalla in May.

As for The Open, Niemann was ranked within the top 50 of the OWGR heading into Hoylake. That no longer remains the case.

And then, for last year’s U.S. Open, Niemann gained entry because he qualified for the 2022 Tour Championship. He then went to LIV and thus did not participate in last year’s Tour Championship at East Lake.

Other qualifying criteria for the U.S. Open include ranking among the top 60 in the OWGR.

The Masters, meanwhile, is much harder to get into, as it is the smallest field among the majors. The top 50 of the OWGR at the end of 2023 and those within the top 50 in the week leading up to the 2024 Masters will receive an invitation.

Neither applies to Niemann, who carded an impressive 12-under 59 during Friday’s opening round of LIV Golf Mayakoba.

He has the talent to play in the majors, which leads us to ask our readers, should Niemann—and LIV Golfers, for that matter—receive a special exemption into the four majors?

Let us know in the comments below or at _@PlayingThrough on all social platforms.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.