Kurt Kitayama Moves Into Top Ten Of Alternative World Ranking

The American's Arnold Palmer Invitational win saw him jump to World No.10 in Sports Illustrated's alternative ranking

Kurt Kitayama takes a shot during the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill
Kurt Kitayama has experienced a big jump in Sports Illustrated's alternative world ranking
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kurt Kitayama enjoyed a 27-place jump in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) following his enthralling victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

However, while the American’s maiden PGA Tour win now finds him at a career-high World No.19, in the alternative ranking produced by Sports Illustrated, he’s faring even better. Kitayama began last week’s tournament at World No.44 on the Sports Illustrated World Golf Rankings (SIWGR), but now sits in the final place in the top 10.

The huge leap is partly down to course difficulty, and Bay Hill ranks third on the PGA Tour’s toughest courses list behind Spyglass Hill and Torrey Pines. However, strength of field is also taken into consideration, and the tournament was one of the PGA Tour’s designated events, meaning it had plenty of quality. Therefore, it wasn’t unexpected that Katayama would enjoy a sizeable leap up the ranking following his victory.

Still, a 34-place rise is considerable, particularly taking into account the winner of the tournament that preceded the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Chris Kirk, only rose seven places to World No.17 following his Honda Classic win, perhaps highlighting the effect of performing well in designated events.

The SIWGR also takes into account players' last 12 months instead of the OWGR's 24-month outlook. To that end, Katayama was already making inroads into the upper echelons of the ranking thanks to his three runner-up places in that period – last May’s tie for second in the Mexico Open, and outright runner-up finishes in July’s Genesis Scottish Open and October’s CJ Cup at Congaree.

Another big mover this week was Harris English, who now stands at World No.32 in the SIWGR, a rise of 80 from last week’s World No.112. His tie for runner-up with Rory McIlroy last week followed a tie for 12th in the previous designated event, the Genesis Invitational.

Going the other way, Tony Finau, who began the tournament in the position Kitayama now holds, has slipped to 13th after finishing tied for 24th, while Sam Burns falls six places to 20th after beginning the tournament in 14th.

With no LIV Golf tournament last weekend, the best placed player from the circuit on the list, Dustin Johnson, fell from World No.15 to World No.18. Meanwhile, like the OWGR, Jon Rahm remains World No.1 despite his disappointing tie for 39th.

Mike Hall
News Writer

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.