New world golf rankings take politics out of the equation

In its 36-year history, the Official World Golf Ranking formula has been changed more frequently than a Donald Trump alibi but, unlike the latter, finally seems to have reached a point where it is both authentic and defensible.

The latest iteration debuted this week, the product of a four-year review. The math isn’t much easier for most of us to understand, but the principle behind it is this: A tournament’s available ranking points are determined by one factor, the quality of its competitors. Gone are the arbitrary devices used by the world’s golf tours to inflate their importance and support events that had long since faded. Going forward, the leaderboard will no longer be hostage to the marketing and machinations of its member circuits.

The old system was as compromised as a Russian election when Comrade Vlad is on the ballot. The number of ranking points a tournament offered its champion was based on the strength of their platoon, but if a platoon was weak, each member round – there are 23 of them – had a predetermined “minimum” number of points. which he could award to the winner instead. Each time a tour relied on minimums to cover an anemic field, the tournament in question was overrated and a bias was injected into the standings. And every tour was guilty.

The PGA Tour has used its allotted minimum points in opposite-field events, which is about 10-12% of its schedule. The DP World Tour did this in about half of their events, while other tours did this almost every time they played. The distortions didn’t stop there. Tours could also declare a “flagship” tournament, bestowing status on an event that often inflated its value far beyond the quality of the field it attracted. The whole process was as much political as it was statistical.

Under the new system, each player is assigned a World Strokes Gains Rating based on two years of scores. This rating determines how many points he contributes to an event, and the total points of all competitors is what the champ is playing for. The more elite players that enter, the more points they compete for. Basically, it’s all tour-agnostic – no artificial minimums, no behind-the-scenes politics, nothing but the caliber of entrants determines a tournament’s seeding value. Some will inevitably shout that their home tour is now underpriced, but in reality, their tour was previously artificially overpriced.

“With these changes, players and tournaments in different parts of the world can be compared with a higher degree of accuracy than before,” said Mark Broadie, a professor at Columbia Business School and creator of the Strokes Gained metrics, which has designed the new classification. algorithm.

Informed readers will have noticed that the new system poses a problem for players registered at LIV Golf, which does not yet offer ranking points for its schedule. The previous system didn’t do them any favors either, but since Judge Beth Labson Freeman of California’s Ninth District ruled they couldn’t compete where the most points were available – on the PGA Tour – they’ll have to play fewer circuits to maintain their world ranking, especially if they depend on this rank to advance to major championships. And even doing that won’t save them.

A handful of LIV guys joining an otherwise weak field on, say, the Asian Tour won’t mean that many more ranking points are available because the quality of who they’re competing against now matters, and it doesn’t. There are no discretionary ways for tours to inflate tournament ranking value. The new system offers no hiding places, which should ensure that we won’t have another Jumbo Ozaki situation. Ozaki earned the latitude of a deity on the Japan Tour and rarely left it (the only of his 119 credited victories won elsewhere was the 1972 PGA of New Zealand). His home results kept Ozaki in the world top 10 until 1998, well past his 50th birthday and nearly a decade away from the last of his three career top 10s at the majors.

In July, LIV Golf submitted an application for ranking points. OWGR member tours must comply with all applicable rules for a year before this status can be granted, but LIV has still not met at least half a dozen of the necessary requirements. Despite this, LIV CEO Greg Norman sought approval just days after the application was filed and began alleging conspiracies against his outfit. It was like phoning the IRS a few days after filing your taxes to demand a refund that isn’t due. Yet the extraordinary combination of grievances and rights helps explain LIV’s warm embrace of Trump Bedminster a few weeks ago.

Judge Freeman’s decision will only increase LIV’s desperation for ranking points that could keep more of their players eligible for major championships. A lawsuit on that front looks likely as Greg and his bot-fueled conspiracy theorists – the GAGA mob – claim collusion between every entity in golf to suppress the league, despite OWGR changes prior to the creation of LIV.

Projections of how LIV players will fare in the world rankings without access to PGA Tour events — and without facing quality opponents on other tours — are grim. By the end of the year, most will have dropped outside the top 50. Come spring next, when the deadlines for guys to be ranked high enough to enter the majors draw near, nearly all will be on the wrong side of the line. cut line. Only those who meet other eligibility criteria are likely to make it.

This could render feverish speculation about how the major leagues will handle LIV moot. All they may have to do is wait. Many players who signed with LIV knew that rankings were crucial if they wanted to stay eligible for the game’s biggest events, and they had a year’s notice before the new system went into effect. Their error, if they even see it as such, was not born of a lack of information. He came to believe Norman when he insisted the PGA Tour had no right to suspend them and prevent a free ride on his ranking points.

History shows that there is nothing good about making a fortune with a blond-haired narcissist who thinks the rules just don’t apply to him.

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