Although Andy Ogletree has clinched the International Series title – and guaranteed entry into the 2024 LIV Golf League – the next seven spots in the season-long standings also carry a significant benefit.
Players finishing inside the top 8 in the standings after this week’s International Series finale in Indonesia will receive a first-round bye at the LIV Golf Promotions tournament next month in Abu Dhabi. That’s a huge advantage in hopes of earning one of the 2024 LIV Golf spots available to the top three finishers at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
The seven players immediately trailing Ogletree in The International Series standings are: No. 2 David Puig of Spain, No. 3 Kieran Vincent of Zimbabwe, No. 4 Ben Campbell of New Zealand, No. 5 Takumi Kanaya of Japan, No. 6 Wade Ormsby of Australia, No. 7 Gunn Charoenkul of Thailand, and No. 8 Eugenio Chacarra of Spain.
Puig and Chacarra, regular members of the LIV Golf League in 2023, rank inside the top 8 thanks mostly to their International Series victories (Chacarra at the St Andrews Bay Championship; Puig in Singapore).
Puig, a member of Joaquin Niemann’s Torque GC, ranked 31st in the LIV Gold Individual standings, putting him in the Open Zone. He currently is not under contract for 2024 and is a free agent, although as a rising star at age 21 – he was the youngest LIV golfer this year – he is expected to have no shortage of suitors. A top-8 finish has little impact on him; even so, he's playing this week.
Chacarra, a member of Sergio Garcia’s Fireballs GC, is under contract for 2024 and thus has no need to hold his position in the standings; in fact, he’s not in the field.
That leaves Vincent, Campbell, Kanaya, Ormsby and Charoenkul as current top 8 players hoping to maintain their positions after Sunday's conclusion of the BNI Indonesian Masters presented by Tunas Niaga Energi.
"It would mean everything to get into LIV Golf next year," said Charoenkul, one of five Thai players in the top 20. "It is Incredible to get this chance - not just me but all the players, to be set up for life pretty much, so whatever chance you get you just got to take it."
Chacarra’s absence opens the door for at least one player to overtake him in the eighth and final spot. With a first-place prize of US $270,000, players ranked as low as 51st have a mathematical shot to move into the top 8 with a win. Of course, multiple players could force their way inside the bubble depending on how Sunday’s final leaderboard shakes out. (Players must finish inside the top 8 of the season-long standings; there is no adjusted scale to exclude LIV Golf members.)
“If you can get into the top eight, it is going to be big,” said American Berry Henson, currently 16th. “… I must set goals on the number I need to get into that top eight.”
“I want to get to that second round in Abu Dhabi,” added Philippine star Miguel Tabuena, who ranks 20th.
Sitting immediately outside the bubble in ninth place is Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai, just over $15,000 behind Chacarra. Khongwatmai, who played during the inaugural 2022 LIV Golf Invitational season, tied for third in last week’s Hong Kong Open and a similar finish would be enough to catapult him above Chacarra.
India’s Anirban Lahiri is 10th in the standings but already has secured his LIV Golf position after finishing 13th in the Individual race as a member of Crushers GC. Like Puig, Lahiri is playing this week.
Thailand’s Sarit Suwannarut and Korea’s Jaewoong Eom are right behind Lahiri and among the competitors still hoping for a top-8 finish. Suwannarut won the Volvo China Open two weeks ago and is the defending champ this week at Royale Jakarta.
“I’m not the same player as last year so I just try to be the same and try to play my best,” Suwannarut said. “I'm not really expecting anything … I just want to go out there and play my best, and let's see what happens. If you play well and someone beats you, you can't help it.”
Grabbing a top-8 spot means automatic exemption into the second round of the LIV Golf Promotions tournament. Here’s how it works:
The Promotions event consists of four rounds of 18-hole stroke play. Starting Friday, December 8, players who finish in the top 20 and ties from round one will advance to Saturday’s round two, where scores will reset, and the field will be joined by a category of players who automatically qualified for day two. That list includes any players inside the top 8 of the International Series, along with the four relegated Drop Zone players (and any Open Zone players who decide to compete) from the 2023 LIV Golf season, and any others who are eligible under Category B of the Promotions exemption list.
The top 20 players following round two will advance to the final day of competition, where scores will reset once more before the 36-hole shootout.
At the conclusion of the Promotions tournament, the top three finishers receive those highly coveted and lucrative spots in the LIV Golf League for 2024, and will also earn prize money of $200,000, $150,000, and $100,000 respectively. Players finishing fourth to 10th will receive full exemption for all 2024 events on The International Series.
Top photo of Sarit Suwannarut, courtesy of Asian Tour