Has The Official World Golf Ranking Lost Its Legitimacy?

As time goes on, LIV Golf players continue to tumble down the world rankings - which are becoming more and more PGA Tour-centric

Rory McIlroy smiles in front of Dustin Johnson
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy is back on top of the Official World Golf Ranking after successfully defending the CJ Cup title but it’s difficult to argue against the fact that the OWGR is no longer what it was less than a year ago.

The ranking has been the bible of golf for the past few decades but it hasn't had the best of years with big changes to its system and the emergence of LIV Golf wreaking havoc on the sport. Changes have meant the PGA Tour's points are now significantly higher than the DP World and other tours' due to minimum point allocations being scrapped, meaning it is more difficult for non-PGA Tour players to climb up into the top 50.

One insider told Golf Monthly: “The one thing that everybody has overlooked is the fact that the European Tour and the rest of the world have been absolutely shafted by the PGA Tour on world ranking points. That’s the one thing that’s never been mentioned, it’s been overlooked, and what the PGA Tour have done to the rest of the world is absolutely outrageous."

We recently saw an Asian Tour pro speak out against the new system after one tournament winner earned just under 2.3 points, less than T11th place finishers got in the same week's French Open on the DP World Tour.

And adding to that, a growing number of fans seem to be turning their backs on its legitimacy due to the fact that LIV Golf players are dropping like flies, with some even arguing that Cameron Smith might be sitting top of the list had he not defected. Scroll through any Golf Monthly world ranking-related posts and it's clear that fans are divided on the system. There's a lot of LIV fandom or, as Rory McIlroy might describe it 'propaganda', on social media but even some non-LIV fans think the OWGR has lost credibility or it's time for the rankings to include the 54-hole series in some form at least.

Cam Smith aside, the world rankings are already starting to look a little ‘unofficial’ with the body not yet recognising LIV events, meaning that the upper echelons of the ranking is essentially only taking notice of the PGA and DP World Tours.

Would Cam Smith be World No.1 right now had he remained on the PGA Tour? Would Dustin Johnson be as low as 30th? Would Bryson DeChambeau be outside the top 50? Who knows, but the point is that the Official World Golf Ranking currently isn’t an accurate ranking of who the best golfers in the world are and is looking a little silly. It's probably no fault of their own either as there is strict criteria in awarding new tours with points, but it's a huge issue that will be top of their priority lists.

Sure, it has it right at the top - Rory McIlroy is clearly playing better golf than anyone right now and he is deservedly sitting in first place - but the OWGR must be unhappy with how this year has played out and the position it now finds itself in. 

Should LIV be awarded points? If it meets the criteria then yes, but until that day happens the ranking, again stressing at the top level, is merely a ranking for who the best players on the PGA Tour are. LIV fields will continue to become weaker in terms of Strength of Field Rating as time goes on too, so it's clear to see why many LIV players are desperate to get rankings points as soon as possible.

Greg Norman has called on the OWGR to 'include LIV or fold' and unsurprisingly many LIV players have spoken out on its urgent need to be recognised. The new World No.1 also wants a system that ranks the world's best golfers accordingly, but admits that LIV must meet the criteria.

“I certainly would want the best players in the world ranked accordingly," Rory McIlroy recently said. "I think if Dustin Johnson is somewhere around 100th in the world. It's not an accurate reflection of where he is in the game. But at the same time, you can’t make up your own rules. There’s criteria there, everyone knows what they are and if they want to pivot to meet the criteria they can. I’ve not problem with them getting World Ranking points at all but you have to meet the criteria. If you don’t it’s hard to justify why you should have them.”

Has the OWGR lost its legitimacy? Not yet, but it certainly is starting to look a little odd. LIV's biggest issue right now is getting points, but the longer they don't have them, the longer the world rankings continue to feel out of tune with who actually are the best golfers in the world.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV