Jon Rahm lashed out at the new Official World Golf Ranking after this week’s limited-field season finale on the DP World Tour offered nearly half as many points as the PGA Tour’s full-field event.
“I’m going to be as blunt as I can,” Rahm told reporters Wednesday in Dubai. “I think the OWGR right now is laughable. Laughable. Laughable.
“The fact that the RSM doesn’t have any of the top 25 in the world and has more points than this event where we have seven of the top 25 is laughable. The fact that Wentworth [the BMW PGA Championship] had less points than Napa [the PGA Tour’s Fortinet Championship] despite having players in the top 10 in the world is laughable.
“I understand what they are trying to do with the depth of field, but having the best players in the world automatically makes the tournament better. I don’t care what their system says. I think they have made a mistake. I think some aspects of it might be beneficial, but I think they have devalued the value of the better players.
"Take the Tour Championship as an example: The 30 best players of the year should not be punished because it’s a smaller field. Depth of field doesn’t mean better tournament. I could go on and on. I think they have missed the mark on that stance quite a bit.”
Changes to the OWGR went into effect in August. The new ranking creates field ratings for each event that are based on each player’s strokes gained world rating, which is determined by round-by-round stroke-play scores that are adjusted for the relative difficulty of each round. The sum of the performance points – calculated using the strokes gained world rating – for every player in the field determines the field rating. Previously, only players in the top 200 determined the strength of fields.
This week’s field rating for the Tour’s RSM Classic, which doesn’t have any top-25 players, is 223, with 38 first-place points to be awarded to the winner.
The DP World Tour Championship, the 50-man season-ender headlined by world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and No. 5 Rahm, has a field rating of just 121, with nearly 22 points to the champion.
“Would you rather win a tournament when you have the No. 1 player in the world there, or because you have the 30th or sixth there?” Rahm said. “I think it’s more valuable if you’re beating the best players in the world. I think a lot of people would agree, and I think it should reflect that.
“At least the point gap shouldn’t be as vastly different as it is right now. Because we are not talking about the best PGA Tour events in a season where you have multiple high-ranked players. We are talking about a tournament that doesn’t even have one player in the top 20. That, to me, is an issue when you have seven of them here.”
DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, who is a OWGR board meeting, told the BBC that he will raise Rahm’s concerns to the rest of the members.
“It is prudent to bring it up based on our top players and their comments,” Pelley told the BBC. “The OWGR is a hot topic for many reasons. There were four universities that did a detailed study and all came to the conclusion that the world rankings didn’t necessarily reflect the game of golf. As a result, we implemented a new system. And like with any new system, you evaluate it and modify it if changes are needed.”
Rahm’s stance puts him at odds with McIlroy, who on Tuesday described the revamped OWGR as “the fairest system that you can come up with right now.”
“The reason that this has got 21 points and the RSM has got 39 is the person that wins the RSM has to beat 139 other guys. You only have to beat 49 other guys here,” McIlroy said. “It’s a much fairer system. I think it rewards people that – it’s pure numbers.
“Strength of field has not hurt people’s feelings. Has it upset people? Yes, because people have been used to getting a certain amount of world ranking points in one event and now it’s dropped. But I would say those events were getting more than they should be.
“I think it’s the fairest system that you can come up with right now. And a lot of work went into that – five years of algorithms and analysis and work went on into the system, so it’s not as if it changed overnight. It’s the best one that we can come up with right now, and I think it will take a while. It will take another 18 months for it to play out because everyone gets two years into the rolling system.”
And what about LIV’s application for world ranking points? Rahm was asked whether he believed the upstart league should be granted points.
“I think a lot of people are against them having world ranking points. I’m not necessarily against it, but there should be adjustments,” Rahm said. “If your requirement to have world ranking points is 72 holes and a cut, maybe you don’t award them 100% of the points since they are not fulfilling all of the requirements. Also, because it’s probably a couple-year process, they need to respect that as every other tour has.
“They do have some incredible players. To say that Dustin [Johnson] wasn’t one of the best players this year would be a mistake. So I think they could be awarded. I just don’t know where the math – how we could work it out. I don’t know if they necessarily deserve 100%.”
In some of his strongest comments yet, McIlroy said Tuesday in Dubai that Norman should be removed as LIV Golf commissioner, which follows a report by the Telegraph that LIV could soon replace him with former TaylorMade executive Mark King. Though Rahm said that it was “a mistake and a wasted opportunity” by the PGA Tour to not meet with LIV years ago, he agreed that it’s hard to see how there’s any resolution in the future if Norman remains in his prominent role.
“I think Greg has had a vendetta against the PGA Tour for a long time,” Rahm said. “And when you have an ulterior motive, it can cloud your judgment a little bit. Greg is a player, not a businessman, even if he has been successful in that area. To me, he has an ulterior motive beyond just creating a golf tour. He’s had this vengeance for 30 years.
“So his intentions might not be as pure as they could be, which is a problem. So he might not be the best person for the job, even if he has done great things for the tour. I do believe that, for conversations to take place, Greg might need to be gone. Right now, it doesn’t like he and [PGA Tour commissioner] Jay [Monahan] will want to be in the same room together.”