Are the Official World Golf Rankings Useless?

Knowledgeable sports and golf fans and media are aware of flaws in the current system - Official World Golf Ranking - of ranking the best golfers in the world acknowledging that changes are needed to be credible..

FORESTVILLE, New York – Another week, another major championship, and another discussion about the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR). The 2024 PGA Championship had the largest and best field of 156 players, and 16 of them were from LIV Golf, with some getting special invitations from the PGA of America.

As the four major championships move forward with some qualifications being based on the OWGR, many top LIV Golf players could be shut out. And, without the best players present at every major, the credibility of the professional golf scene diminishes with each passing hole.

In March, LIV Golf Commissioner Greg Norman withdrew the league’s latest bid for OWGR points after the PGA rejected their previous one just months prior. Commissioner Norman stated “A resolution which protects the accuracy, credibility, and integrity of the OWGR rankings no longer exists.”

The concept of the Ranking originated in the early 1980s by Mark H McCormack and Tony Greer. The SONY RANKING, owned and managed by IMG, launched on Sunday, April 6th, 1986. After McCormack’s death in 2003, a new Private Limited Company by guarantee was formed: Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).

LIV Golf players do not receive OWGR points while playing in their own sanctioned events, as the OWGR made it clear that the format and regulation of LIV does not align with the rest of professional golf. In October of 2023 the OWGR released a statement that rejected LIV’s bid because “of the format of the 54-hole, no cut events and the fact that LIV players are guaranteed to play with the same 45 players every event.”

Peter Dawson, the chairman of the OWGR, did however claim that LIV players are “good enough” to be ranked but are not playing in a format that allows them to be properly ranked amongst other tour professionals. In addition, LIV would have to make changes to their format to fit the guidelines created by the OWGR to be considered for any points in the future.

Xander Schauffele won the 2024 PGA Championship to move into 2nd place in the OWGR.

LIV Golf players do have the option to play in other professional golf tournaments that can grant them OWGR points. For example, Jaoquin Niemann used this system to receive an invite to the Masters and the PGA Championship this year because of his performance outside of LIV events.

The main goal and focus should be to bring all of the best players together to play against each other in the four major tournaments every season from respectable leagues, but since the introduction of LIV in 2022 this has proven to be an issue.

The OWGR can be complicated, especially to the casual golf fan. How does the system work? Well there is no simple answer to that question. According to the OWGR website, individuals who compete in “Eligible Tournaments” and play the same “Measured Course” will earn points based on their final placement. The OWGR System is run over rolling Ranking Periods of thirteen week increments. This means that players will receive full value points for each tournament placement for 13 weeks, and after that period of time those placement points are reduced in equal increments for the remaining 91 weeks of the “Ranking Period.”

Does anyone truly believe that Bryson DeChambeau is the 124th ranked player in the world?

Each tournament that is played has a field rating and the possible number of points earned for the OWGR System is proportional to the strength of the field that is competing. The most OWGR points are earned during major tournaments as the fields are the strongest of the year. “Each player is ranked according to their average Ranking Points, which is determined by dividing a player’s Total Points by the number of Eligible Tournaments they have played during the relevant Ranking Period.” For more information on the OWGR system and how it works you can visit the link attached below.

This system is everything but simple. With LIV players not earning any points, after the current 91 week “Ranking Period” they will not be ranked. The top names in LIV golf have already fallen, with players like Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen all well outside of the top 100 players. Before the PGA Championship at Valhalla, runner-up Bryson DeChambeau was ranked 124th in the World and Dean Bermester was ranked 133rd, who finished tied for 12th.

Talor Gooch, who won three times on LIV Golf in 2023, was ranked World No. 668 before his T-60 finish dropped him to No. 605.

LIV Golf players knew what they were signing up for when they took the paycheck and the ability to wear shorts during tournaments. But to not allow a pathway for some of the best players in the world to make it into the major tournaments is a double-edged sword for the PGA and golf.

To protect the credibility of the major golf tournaments in professional golf there needs to be a system where the best players at the end of the day end up competing against each other. No matter the tour or league they play on, players with the highest ability should be the ones earning invites to maintain the respect of these prestigious golf events.

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