'Missing The Point' - Padraig Harrington Questions New World Ranking System

Former Ryder Cup captain says using strokes gained is not the best way of forming ranking points and strengths of fields

Padraig Harrington takes a shot in the 2022 Ally Challenge
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Padraig Harrington has weighed in on the thorny issue of the new Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) system as he feels it doesn’t properly reflect the strength of both individual players and the fields for tournaments.

Jon Rahm had his say recently by labelling the new system as “laughable” when the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai had fewer ranking points available than the RSM Classic on the PGA Tour.

The marquee event on the DP World Tour was marked down for being a limited field, which is one big criticism of the new ranking system.

Former Ryder Cup captain Harrington has brought up a different area for concern – namely the new use of the strokes gained rating of each player to calculate the strength of field for each event.

Harrington says that using strokes gained is not the right statistic to use, and believes that it could have a negative impact on European fields if players go to one-off PGA Tour events and don’t perform at their best.

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“SG ranking is what the stats guys use to rate players essentially for gambling,” Harrington said in a post on social media.

“But from my “personal anecdotal experience” this can lead to a false narrative.”

Harrington explained that because of the new system, if a good player from the DP World Tour plays in a PGA Tour event but doesn’t perform well, his poor scoring then drags down the rating of players he’d been playing with back in Europe.

The three-time Major winner said that European players can often underperform the first time they play out of their comfort zone, but now under the new ranking system that will also hurt fields back in Europe.

“This now reflects terribly on all his fellow European members’ SG as he’s out scoring the European members consistently in his home environment.”

And Harrington added that it does not work the same way in reverse as it’s usually only the very top American players that head over to Europe and the red carpet is often rolled out for them as big name draws for tournaments.

The Irishman ultimately believes that the new system will see international players leave Europe quicker and head to America to avoid their SG ranking taking a hit.

“I actually believe that the new system will force more international players earlier in their careers to the PGA Tour, squeezing out homegrown US players. This is not an endorsement of LIV, they have other issues when it comes to OWGR points.”

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Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.