How Do the World Golf Rankings Work?
The Official World Golf Ranking, or OWGR, is the sport of golf’s official ranking system. It involves a mathematical formula that rates the world’s top professional golfers. Achieving a high enough ranking assures players of automatic entry into numerous tournaments. Additionally, there’s a major prestige factor -- and plenty of endorsement money -- available to the world's No. 1-ranked professional golfer. Just ask former number ones like Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Tiger Woods, and 2022’s end of year world No.1 Scottie Scheffler.
Is OWGR universally accepted?
Professional golf’s major governing bodies, such as the USGA and the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, as well as hosts of the four major world golf championships, including the Royal & Ancient Club and Augusta National Golf Club accept the World Golf Rankings. The rankings are also accepted by the PGA Tour, the European Tour, Asian Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia, DP World Tour, Sunshine Tour (Africa) and the Japan Golf Tour.
What is the OWGR formula?
Golfers receive points based on their performance and the quality of their competition.
The formula starts by rating the events that the player played in based on strength of field. The strength of the field rating value is calculated by taking “world rating value”, or how many players are in the top 200 at an event, and adding it to the “Home tour rating value”. This value rates the player’s on each tour based on their earnings money list, or for the PGA; the Fedex Cup playoff standings.
Players may score points on the Canadian, OneAsia, South American, Korean, Nationwide and European Challenge tours as well as on the six major pro tours. Points remain on a player’s tally for a two year period (up to a maximum of 52 events played during that time), but they’re reduced on a sliding scale after 13 weeks, so recent performances carry greater weight.
A player’s world ranking points are divided to get an average. The divisor is the number of tournaments in which he’s played during the previous two years, with a minimum of 40 tournaments necessary to achieve a ranking based on average points. The World Golf Rankings are published each Monday after the weekend’s play is complete.
Players receive the most total points for winning a major tournament. The victors of the Masters, the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open and the British Open receive 100 points apiece, with runners-up scoring 60 and third-place finishers earning 40. Everyone who makes the cut and completes four rounds of a major receives at least 1.5 points. The Players Championship is the next most prestigious event, with 80 points going to the winner.
The champion of the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour receives at least 64 points. By comparison, winning a standard PGA Tour event or European Tour event earns the winner 24 points.
Scoring well in the rankings is a golfer’s ticket to the world’s most prestigious tournaments. For example, the Masters accepts the top 50 players from the previous year’s rankings, plus the top 50 from the most recent rankings prior to the Masters.
The top 50 players in the rankings are also eligible to compete in the British Open and The Players Championship. The top 60 may play in the U.S. Open.
Is LIV golf calculated to the OWGR?
WIth top players like Phil Mickelson, Bryson Dechambeau and Dustin Johnson jumping ship to the upstart Greg Norman led LIV Golf, many are wondering if there will be a new ranking or new system that includes LIV golf events. At the moment, LIV events are not factored into OWGR points due to a number of issues surrounding the event formats. Many LIV tour players have lost a number of points due to this ruling and can only earn performance points for majors that they have qualified for.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.