‘It’s a flawed system’: Tiger Woods criticizes Official World Golf Ranking

Tiger Woods at the Open Championship earlier this year.

getty images

It’s been an unusually newsy year for the Official World Golf Ranking.

Largely that has been because of the rise of LIV Golf and the controversial league’s push to earn all-important OWGR accreditation. But there have been other headlines, too.

In August, the OWGR implemented a new points system designed to make the ranking more equitable; the new algorithm computes “field ratings” for events based on players’ Strokes Gained World Ratings, which are determined by round-by-round scores adjusted for the relative difficulty of each round. In simple terms, this means a large field with many good players will dole out more points than a smaller field with only a few great players. As my colleague Sean Zak noted, “The ranking has rid itself of bias and injected new features into its algorithm to improve its accuracy and relevancy.”        

Only not all players see it that way, which has led to yet even more OWGR chatter.

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Earlier this month Jon Rahm called the OWGR “laughable,” because players at the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic, which had nary a single top-25 player in the field, were playing for more OWGR points than players at the limited-field DP World Tour’s season finale in Dubai, which had seven top-25 players in the mix. “I don’t care what their system says,” Rahm said. “I think they have made a mistake.” 

On Monday, another pro — David Micheluzzi, who plays on the PGA Tour of Australasia — aired his own OWGR grievances after a sixth-place finish at the Australian PGA Championship earned him only 2.01 ranking points, or fewer than half the 4.48 he received for tying for ninth in the same event in January against a weaker field. “A DP tour event with Cam [Smith] playing,” Micheluzzi wrote in a tweet, referring to last week’s tournament. “I came 6th and got 2.01 points. WTF is this s**t!!

And on Tuesday, yep, you guessed it — more OWGR news! This time featuring Tiger Woods, who has spent a staggering 683 weeks at the pinnacle of the world ranking. When asked at the Hero World Challenge whether he thought the OWGR was “relevant,” Woods didn’t hold back.    

“It’s a flawed system,” he said. “That’s something we all here recognize. The field at Dubai got less points than Sea Island, and more of the top players were there in Dubai, so obviously there’s a flawed system.

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“How do you fix it? You know, those are meetings we’re going to have to have. We’re going to have to have it with World Golf committee and as well as our — the main tours that are involved in it somehow [need to] come up with a better system than is in place now. I remember in my career, when 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.”

What’s curious about that last remark is the system was just amended. Either Woods and his fellow OWGR dissenters didn’t have a say in that process or their quibbles weren’t adequately addressed within the revisions.

In the wake of Rahm’s rant, DP World Tour commissioner Keith Pelley, who sits on the OWGR board, told BBC Sport that Rahm’s gripes would be on the agenda at the next OWGR board meeting. Presumably, Woods’ comments will also catch the attention of the ranking’s decision-makers.

“It is prudent to bring it up based on our top players and their comments,” Pelley told the BBC. “The OWGR is a hot topic for many reasons. There were four universities that did a detailed study and all came to the conclusion that the world rankings didn’t necessarily reflect the game of golf. As a result, we implemented a new system. And like with any new system, you evaluate it and modify it if changes are needed.”

Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.