Since new criteria came into effect in August that placed more emphasis on Strokes Gained World Rating than strength of field to determine the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), there have been accusations that it is heavily skewed in towards the PGA Tour.
Now, there is more evidence to suggest that is the case with the revelation that reaching the world’s top 50 would be almost unachievable for Asian Tour players beginning from scratch. According to the popular Twitter account Nosferatu, which specialises in analysing OWGR data, such a player would need around 20 wins in two years across 40 Asian Tour events to have a chance of breaching the world’s top 50.
Based on the average SoF of regular @asiantourgolf events since the new #OWGR system was adopted, if a player starts from scratch and plays 20 events per year, he would need roughly ~20 wins (over 2 years and 40 events played) to get close to top 50.In other words, impossible... https://t.co/g3TnaNJFvEDecember 4, 2022
That’s an important position to attain because for players who’ve yet to win a Major, eligibility to two of them can depend on being ranked at World No.50 or higher. For example, while there are various exemptions to the Masters, being among the world’s top 50 at the end of the year is one route to eligibility. Similarly, qualification to the Open Championship is also available to anyone in the clutch of players.
Another Twitter account, Data Golf, countered the original tweet slightly by pointing out that, due to the gulf in skill level between the average Asian Tour player and players in the world’s top 50, any player at that level on the Asian Tour would enjoy plenty of victories:
For a bit of perspective: we have the avg player on the Asian Tour at a similar skill level to the avg player on the Latinoamerica Tour (~3 strokes worse per round than the PGA Tour).We also have the avg player in the D1 NCAA Championship (over last few years) at -2.3 skill. https://t.co/2dEicCS2C8December 4, 2022
More perspective: we have a Top 50 golfer at +0.75 skill. So we are talking about a +3.75 skill gap. Tiger at his absolute peak (year 2000) was 4 strokes/round better than the avg. PGA Tour player. So, ya, a Top 50 player would win a lot on the Asian Tour.December 5, 2022
Nevertheless, there is clearly still a high bar to reaching the OWGR top 50 for anyone plying their trade on the Asian Tour. Indeed, one of breakout players of recent months, Tom Kim, made his name on the Asian Tour before earning his PGA Tour card. However, despite making an almost immediate impact on the PGA Tour and rising to World No.15, only two Asian Tour wins preceded that ascent, accentuating how difficult a task it would be to reach the world's top 50 playing solely on the Tour.
The revelation adds to the perception that PGA Tour players are the real beneficiaries of the new system. Recently, comparisons have been made between the smaller number of OWGR points on the DP World Tour compared to the PGA Tour, particularly with the season-closing DP World Championship. That tournament included seven of the world’s top 25, whereas the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic, played during the same week, contained just one player in the top 30. Despite that, the PGA Tour event offered the most OWGR points, a situation Jon Rahm described as “laughable.”
Aside from Asian Tour and DP World Tour players, those on other tours are also struggling to benefit from the new system. After finishing sixth in the recent Australian PGA Championship, PGA Tour of Australasia pro David Micheluzzi questioned why he received fewer OWGR points than the last time he played in the tournament, when he finished tied for ninth among a weaker field.
Tiger Woods has had his say on the OWGR issue, too, admitting the system is flawed. He also expressed his opinion that the system would soon be changed soon, saying: “I remember in my career when I – I had a big lead in my career, I didn’t have to play a single tournament the next year, and I still would be ranked No.1. We changed that system then. So it has been changed in the past and I’m sure this will be changed hopefully soon.”
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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.
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