'I’m Trying To Understand What’s Going On' - Rahm Confused Over World Rankings

The Spaniard is baffled as to why his OWGR isn't higher despite three wins in his last five tournaments

Jon Rahm takes a shot during the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Since an overhaul of the Official World Golf Ranking system came into effect last August, it has received plenty of detractors. One of the most vocal critics of the new system is former World No.1 Jon Rahm. The Spaniard slammed the OWGR changes as laughable last November, and his opinion of the system has not improved.

Rahm stormed to his third win in his last five tournaments after a late Collin Morikawa collapse in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Nevertheless, despite arguably being in the form of his life, Rahm's world ranking stubbornly refuses to move from the World No.5 position he has held since last October.

Following his dramatic win at the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Rahm was asked if he aspires to return to the top of the rankings. He said: “Oh, I definitely do, yeah. And had they not changed the world ranking points, I would have been pretty damn close right now. At this point I’m thinking will I pass Patrick Cantlay? Because since the playoffs, I have not missed a top seven. I’ve won three times, and I don’t even get close to him. So I’m trying to understand what’s going on. But in my mind, I feel like since August, I’ve been the best player in the world.”

The world ranking changes saw more emphasis added to the strength of field based on the number of players taking part in any tournament. Last week’s event had a limited field of just 38 players. That meant fewer OWGR points were awarded than in previous years despite Rahm having to overcome the challenges of 16 other players in the world’s top 20 to claim victory.

The situation is exacerbated by the puzzling omission of the “leap week,” which meant that no player’s world ranking declined between 26 December and 1 January, in contrast to previous years, when there were changes to players' world rankings despite the lack of tournaments during the period.

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Arguably, Rahm’s form highlights the flaws in the current system more than any other measure. Indeed, that trio of recent victories only tells part of the story of his recent dominance. Rahm was World No.2 following his win in the Mexico Open last May. That marked the first of 10 top-10 finishes in a run of 15 tournaments. During that time, he has also not missed a cut and claimed the prestigious DP World Tour Championship among the four victories.

Despite Rahm's stunning form, his ranking slipped as low as World No.6 before recovering to its current position three months ago. While Rahm can only hope that the powers-that-be change the system to better reflect the quality of players in the fields, he sees hard work as his best chance of regaining the top spot in the meantime. He said: “I feel like, and I think a lot of us should feel like a lot of times we’re the best. Earlier in the year, clearly Scottie was that player, then Rory was that player, and I feel like right now it’s been me. Anybody any given year, can get a hot three, four months and get to that spot. It’s the level of golf we’re at nowadays. It is what it is.

“It’s very difficult to stay up there and it requires a lot of golf. But we’re all working hard. I know everybody’s putting in a lot of effort to try to stay there as long as possible. But to answer that, yes, I want to be back up there because it’s something you want to do, obviously. But you need to play good and win tournaments, nobody’s going to give it to you.”

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.