Should golf get rid of the world rankings?

By Rex HoggardApril 16, 2012, 4:20 pm

Rory McIlroy regained the No. 1 spot on the Official World Golf Ranking this past week despite not playing. The OWGR has been under fire for years, but never more so than now with its volatility and its importance in determining opportunities. Should the rankings be scrapped altogether? Rex Hoggard, Jason Sobel and Randall Mell weigh in.


Funny how the world was abuzz Monday morning following Sunday’s shakeup atop the world golf ranking. From his couch, Rory McIlroy regained the No. 1 ranking after Luke Donald tied for 37th at the Heritage, a byproduct of complicated arithmetic more so than a commanding performance.

Although the flaws in the ranking math have been compounded by the reality that there is currently no dominant player, the complicated and confusing system has been a concern for years to those whose livelihood has depended on the ranking arithmetic.

With respect to those who have refined the ranking over the years, it’s time to scrap the current system and try something new, or, better yet, something old.

Ever since golfers began playing for pay the purest way to measure performance was a player’s earnings. Instead of basing entry into the game’s biggest events on where a player is in the ranking, the top performers according to the previous year’s money lists (PGA Tour, European Tour, etc.) would receive the most coveted invitations, which is essentially what the world golf ranking has become.

It’s competitive Darwinism at its purest, without the cloud of reduced divisors or “rolling” averages. 


I’ll be the first to admit that the current formula used for calculating the Official World Golf Ranking is far from perfect, but an imperfect system still beats nothing at all.

There are two main reasons to have an OWGR. The first is that it gives us a tangible listing of the game’s most elite players, at least based on one specific mathematical formula. With it, debates are still waged over which players are ranked too high or too low; without it, we wouldn’t even have a starting point for such discussions. The pride shown by Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy as they’ve traded turns atop the list proves that it means something to them – and if it means something to the world’s best players, then it should probably mean something to the rest of us, too.

The second – and more important – reason is that OWGR ranking helps place players into majors and WGC events. Until the time when such tournaments choose to create fields off things like the FedEx Cup points list (yet another imperfect system) or employ a selection committee to fill roster spots on a weekly basis, the world ranking remains the best gauge for determining which players should gain entry into certain fields and which shouldn’t.

Again, the OWGR is hardly a failsafe option, with its seemingly random divisors creating consternation for players and fans alike. Until a better one is proposed, though, it remains the best option available – because it’s the only one.


I like the world rankings concept.

Keep them, I say, because the game’s better today, more exciting and more interesting with the Official World Golf Ranking in place.

OK, I have my helmet and flak jacket strapped on because I know what furor those words will invite.

Yes, the world rankings are flawed, nobody disputes that, but in all the criticism heaped upon the system, I’ve yet to hear a better plan. I would like to see just one original plan that isn’t just a tweak of the current system, one original plan that doesn’t create more outrage than what we already have. So show me one original plan that does a better job at the impossible task of measuring apples and oranges, because that’s what golf is on the world stage. There’s no perfect way to measure Americans, Europeans, Asians, Australians and Africans playing different tours. Show me a plan that fairly works the Asian tours into the mix.

There are quirks in the system, like how Rory McIlroy can take the week off and move up to No. 1, but divisors make the system more fair than unfair. Yes, there are always a couple players left out of the top 50 who seem more deserving than somebody getting into a major championship or WGC event because he is in the top 50. No system will remedy that.

The most complaints come from American players outside the top 50 who won’t be happy with any system other than using the PGA Tour money list to measure performance.

While you hear players complain about the world rankings, there ought to be more outrage if the system’s so bad. Yes, you hear it from guys ranked No. 50-100, but you hardly hear a peep from guys inside the top 50. If the system were that bad, there would be an uprising, and it just isn’t there. If the system was that bad, there would be easy fixes, and there just aren't.

Getty Images

Woods talks about Ryder Cup prospects in third person

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 1:47 pm

Conversations between Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods have gotten a little awkward.

That’s what happens when Woods, the U.S. Ryder Cup vice captain, needs to assess the prospects of Woods, the player.

“We’re talking about myself in the third person a lot,” he said with a chuckle Tuesday at the Northern Trust Open. “That’s one of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had and I’m having a lot of fun with it.

“I’m one of the guys on the short list, and sometimes I have to pull myself out of there and talk about myself in the third person, which is a little odd.”

The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos

After placing second at the PGA Championship, Woods finished 11th on the U.S. points list with just eight months of tournament results. Three of Furyk’s four captain’s picks will be announced after the BMW Championship in three weeks, and barring a late injury, it’s almost a certainty that Woods will be one of those selected.

Still, Woods was named in February as an assistant for his third consecutive team competition, even though he told Furyk at the beginning of the year that he envisioned himself as a player on the 2018 squad.

“I’m very close to making that happen,” he said. “It’s been a long year, and that’s been one of my goals, to make the team. To be a part of that team you have to be one of the 12 best players, and I’m trending toward that.”

Getty Images

Woods on busy schedule: 'It's about pacing myself'

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 1:34 pm

At the beginning of the year, Tiger Woods was anxious to see how his fused back would hold up to tournament play.

Now he’s in the midst of one of his busiest stretches in years.

With the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup likely to be added to his schedule over the next few weeks, Woods could play seven events in a nine-week span.

The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos

“That is a lot of golf,” he said Tuesday at The Northern Trust. “It’s about pacing myself and making sure I don’t practice too much, don’t overdo it and make sure my training schedule goes well.

“One of the hardest things this year has been finding the right balance. As the summer has gone on, I’ve gotten better and felt better. This is a pretty important stretch.”

Woods has already played 14 events – his most since 2013, when he had 16 starts.

He’s committed to playing the first three playoff events, beginning with this week’s event in New Jersey. There’s a week off after the BMW Championship, and at No. 20 in the FedExCup standings, Woods doesn’t need to do much to punch his ticket to East Lake. He’s also virtually assured of being a U.S. captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup, held in France the week after the Tour Championship.

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: The Northern Trust

By Tiger TrackerAugust 21, 2018, 1:00 pm

Tiger Woods begins his FedExCup Playoffs run at this week's Northern Trust. We're tracking him at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.

Getty Images

Stock Watch: Will Bjorn buy or sell slumping Sergio?

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 12:07 pm

Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Sneds (+9%): It doesn’t always happen, a Tour player shooting 59 and then finishing it off with a W, so it was satisfying to watch Brandt Snedeker go wire to wire at the Wyndham. An in-form Sneds now should edge out Kevin Kisner for one of Jim Furyk’s final captain picks.

Viktor Hovland (+6%): Watching the Oklahoma State junior maul the field at the U.S. Amateur, a question arose: How does the fifth-ranked player in the world not win more often? The U.S. Am was just his second title, anywhere, outside of Norway. That could all change, after he proved to himself that he could handle the best field and the stiffest challenge.

Lexi (+4%): She once again was penalized – for playing preferred lies in a different fairway – but Thompson still shot 17 under and tied for 12th in her first start since a self-imposed break to recharge her batteries. In the media tent she was refreshingly honest about the difficulties of being a 23-year-old superstar who never went to college and whose life is consumed by golf. Here’s hoping she can find a better balance (like, say, Michelle Wie) over the next few years.

Tyler McCumber (+3%): The world rankings don’t reflect it, but McCumber is playing the best golf of anyone in the world right now. In his past four starts on the Canadian circuit, he’s gone win-win-3rd-win and shot 90 under par with a scoring average of 65.88 and just two rounds higher than 68.

Nick Taylor (+1%): Playing for his Tour card, Taylor shot a bogey-free 63 Sunday at the Wyndham – with an eagle and birdie in his last four holes – to jump from 129th to 119th in the standings. That’s clutch.


Billy Hurley III (-1%): A winner two years ago at Tiger’s event, Hurley is now headed back to second stage of Q-School after finishing 201st in the standings – by a point. A tough break for one of the game’s good dudes.

Kevin Stadler (-2%): He reminded us of the dangers of slamming clubs, after the head of his 7-iron flew off and struck a spectator in the head, requiring stitches. It was a scary scene – “It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much blood,” said playing partner Shaun Micheel – that could have been even worse.

Sepp Straka (-3%): There were plenty of stories of heartbreak at the Tour regular-season finale, perhaps none as crushing as Straka, who went 5 over for his last seven holes (including three consecutive bogeys to finish) to drop outside of the top-25 bubble.

Sergio (-4%): At last, some signs of life – his tie for 24th in Greensboro was his best finish on Tour since March – but he still didn’t make the playoffs, and it still might not be enough to sway Thomas Bjorn. For the captain it may come down to a question like this: Who would you rather have in Paris, Sergio or Russell Knox?