The Official World Golf Ranking will unveil a new system in 2022 after a lengthy review process meant to find ways to improve it.
It will not go into effect until Aug. 14, 2022, and since it will continue to operate on a two-year cycle, the full impact of the changes will not be felt until 2024.
The Official World Golf Ranking has been in existence since 1986, and according to Peter Dawson, the chairman of the OWGR governing board, there have been 17 tweaks made to the system over those 35 years.
“This has been since July of 2018 a remarkable process to be a part of, that there’s been careful deliberation and analysis, including — and with — representatives from all the major championships, from each of the federation tours, including the Asian Tour, the Australasian Tour, Sunshine Tour, Japan Golf Tour, and of course the European Tour and the PGA Tour,” said Bill Schroder of the OWGR technical committee and a vice president with PGA Tour international relations. “And everybody came into the discussion with the mindset or the spirit of discussion with try to find what is the best way to rank, or to evaluate, the relative performances of players around the globe and arrive at the most accurate ranking possible given the tools available.”
Among the changes to the system will be awarding ranking points to all players who make the cut in a tournament and using a field rating calculation based on a statistical evaluation of every player in the field, rather than just those in the field who are ranked among the top 200.
Major championships will continue to award 100 first-place points, while the Players Championship will award 80 to the winner. But the various pro tours will no longer be given extra points for “flagship events,” meaning that they will award points based on the strength and depth of their fields, with a maximum of 80 first-place points.
“What these reviews revealed was that through the use of assigned values in its strength-of-field calculation, which includes tour minimums, flagship tournaments and the home tour rating, there was some level of bias in the system, which means that there was some level of performances that were either being undervalued or overvalued,” Schroder said.
He gave an example from the final round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, where Cam Smith finished 60th and Si Woo Kim was 65th, separated by 8 shots. Neither player received ranking points, but in the future, both likely would, with a difference based on their finish and scores.
The World Ranking system, as it is, involves a complicated formula that rewards points based on finish with all points added and then divided by the number of events played to come up with an average, which leads to the ranking. Over the course of two years, a player is given a minimum of 40 events for his divisor if he plays less than that.
Jon Rahm is the current No. 1-ranked player in the world, and while the rankings are mostly for prestige, they are used to determine places in all of the major championships. The Masters has a top-50 invitation for players at the end of the year and a week prior to the tournament; the PGA typically invites all of the top 100 in the world who are not otherwise eligible; the U.S. Open goes to the top 60 at two different periods prior to the tournament; and The Open has a top-50 cutoff and fills its field with alternates based on the world ranking.
The World Golf Championship events also use the rankings, including for seeding at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship.