The Official World Golf Ranking is a technical subject, so we try to make sense of it a little better for you here.
How Does The Official World Golf Ranking Work?
The Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) is a system for rating the performance level of professional golfers, with players accumulating points over a two year rolling period to determine their ranking in the OWGR.
To put it simply, a golfer’s World Ranking is obtained by dividing their points total by the number of events they have played, which gives an average from which players are ranked by.
However, there are more technical details involved, especially when considering that the system will change in August 2022.
In order to place additional emphasis on recent performances, points awarded for each tournament are maintained for a 13-week period.
Ranking points are then reduced in equal decrements for the remaining 91 weeks of the two year ranking period, and each player is then ranked according to their average points per tournament by dividing their total number of points by the number of tournaments they have played in.
In order to qualify for ranking, a player must have played a minimum of 40 tournaments over the two year ranking period, while there’s a maximum of 52 tournaments too – the most recent events will therefore only count in this instance.
Currently, players need to play on one of the leading professional Eligible Golf Tours, of which there are 23, to receive World Ranking Points.
Major Championships, World Golf Championships, Olympic Golf Competition, and the World Cup of Golf are also all eligible for World Ranking Points – team events aren’t, however.
These technicalities will all stay the same in August 2022 when the format of the OWGR changes.
Currently, there is a strength of field metric that is used to determine ranking points to differentiate between the 23 recognised tours.
Ultimately, players playing on the European Tour or PGA Tour are more likely to rank higher on the OWGR, because there are simply more points available.
The strength of field is determined by adding together the world rating and the home rating.
The world rating relates to the number of top-200 world ranked players are competing in the event, who are all given different points depending on their ranking – the World No. 1 is allocated 45 points, the No. 2 is allocated 37, the No. 3 is allocated 32, down to those ranked between 101 and 200 who are allocated a rating value of 1 each.
The home rating is based on the number of top-30 ranked players from the previous year on that specific tour are competing in the event – the home tour No. 1 is allocated 8, down to those from 16 to 30 who are allocated a rating value of 1 each.
A strength of field rating is then produced by adding together the world and home rating, which converts into an event ranking using a table that determines the number of points available for players at an event.
For example, a strength of field value of 10 converts to an event ranking of 8, a strength of field value of 100 converts to an event ranking of 24, while a strength of field value of 500 converts to an event ranking of 62.
Major Championships have a fixed event ranking of 100 points, and the top eight tours have flagship events that are guaranteed more ranking points.
New rankings are produced each week, though a player’s recent upheaval in form still might not propel them up the rankings, because the previous two years are taken into account.
However, from August 2022 the ranking system will implement more modern statistical techniques to calculate the modified system.
Each player in the OWGR system will have a Strokes Gained (SG) world rating based on their scores in stroke-play events, which is adjusted for the relative difficulty of each round they play.
A player’s SG world rating dictates the number of performance points a player brings into a tournament, with the sum of all golfers’ points determining the event’s field rating – replacing the strength of field metric currently used.
Minimum points on offer at flagship events will no longer exist too, though The Players Championship winner still receives 80 points.
Fields will therefore be evaluated by the skill level of every player involved, rather than just the world’s top-200, with all players making the cut in an event now receiving ranking points.
Official World Golf Ranking Records
The Official World Golf Ranking started in 1986, with Bernard Langer earning the title as the World Number One for the first time.
In 35 years of the ranking, only 24 players have ever made the top spot.
Tiger Woods has spent the most consecutive weeks (281), and the most total weeks (683), as the World Number One.
Tiger Woods became the youngest player to become the World No. 1 in 1997, when just 21 years and 167 days old.
Woods has spent 906 weeks in the top-ten of the Official World Golf Ranking, while Ernie Els spent 788 weeks, and Phil Mickelson 775.
Phil Mickelson has spent 270 weeks at No. 2 without ever rising to the top ranked player in the world – next man on the list Jim Furyk spent 39 weeks in second for comparison.
Tom Lehman has spent the lowest amount of time at the top, with just one week in April 1997.
Three golfers have spent an entire year at World No. 1: Nick Faldo in 1993, Greg Norman in 1996, and Tiger Woods in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.
Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are the only two players to become World No. 1 who haven’t won a Major in their career.
Vijay Singh is the oldest player to have held World No. 1 status, when he was 42 years and 93 days old.
Singh was 46 years and 140 days old when he was last in the top-ten of the OWGR, making him the oldest player to be there.
Sergio Garcia was just 20 years and 7 days old when he became the youngest ever player to enter the top-ten in 2000.