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.
By REX HOGGARD
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.
By JASON SOBEL
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.
By RANDALL MELL
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.