Jon Rahm can’t get to World No. 1 this week, but someone behind him can
Jon Rahm just can’t catch a break when it comes to the Official World Golf Rankings.
The World No. 4 and winner earlier this month at the Sentry Tournament of Champions continued his recent strong play to start this week’s American Express. He opened with back-to-back rounds of 64 to start the third round in second alone, two strokes behind rookie leader Davis Thompson.
He’s been on a worldwide heater for the last few months. In his last nine starts, Rahm has finished outside the top 10 just once and notched three wins.
And in that time, he’s moved only from No. 6 to No. 4 in the world.
Now Rahm is the subject of a unique world ranking wrinkle: According to OWGR guru Nosferatu, with a win this week, Rahm can only move one spot higher, to No. 3 while World No. 5 Patrick Cantlay can jump as high as No. 1.
The OWGR made tweaks to the ranking formula back in August and Rahm has not, by any measure, been a fan.
In November, at the DP World Championship, he called the ranking system “laughable.” Under the new system, limited-field events — like the ones Rahm won at the Sentry and DP World Tour Championship — carry less weight.
“The fact that the RSM doesn’t have any of the top 20 in the world has more points than this event [DP World Tour Championship] where we have seven of the top 20 is laughable,” Rahm said in Dubai — where he won five days later. “The fact that Wentworth [BMW PGA Championship] had less points than Napa [Fortinet Championship], having players in the top 10 in the world is laughable.”
The changes, he believed, unfairly favored the PGA Tour over DP World Tour events as the OWGR no longer applies minimum tournament values. Those minimums were an advantage to the DP World Tour, which has generally weaker fields than the PGA Tour.
“I understand what they are trying to do with the depth of field, but having the best players in the world automatically makes the tournament better,” he said then. “I don’t care what their system says. I think they have made a mistake. I think some aspects of it might be beneficial but I think they have devalued the value of the better players…. I could go on and on. I think they have missed the mark on that stance quite a bit.”
“Since the playoffs… I’ve won three times and I don’t even get close to [Cantlay],” Rahm told Sky Sports. “So I’m trying to understand what’s going on.”
He also said he could possibly be the world’s top player if the changes hadn’t gone into effect.
“Had they not changed the world ranking points I would have been pretty damn close [to world No. 1] right now,” Rahm told Sky Sports. “But in my mind, I feel like since August I’ve been the best player in the world.”
In December, with the help of statistician Mark Broadie, GOLF’s resident OWGR expert, Sean Zak, pointed out these OWGR criticisms ignore the fact It will take time for the changes to take full effect.
At The American Express, Rahm needs to win in order to supplant World No. 3 Cam Smith — who has played just two OWGR events since joining LIV Golf in September. According to Nosferatu, Cantlay can jump Rahm, Smith, Scottie Scheffler and current World No. 1 Rory McIlroy with a win and Scheffler finishing outside the top 8.
Scheffler, meanwhile, can return to World No. 1 with a solo 8th finish or better, or if he finishes solo 9th, a 3-way T8 or 2-way T8 and if Cantlay doesn’t win. Cantlay needs to win and have Scheffler finish outside the top 8.
McIlroy makes his 2023 debut next week at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic on the DP World Tour.