Anyone who clicks on “This Week’s Events” on the OWGR web page this week may be in for a surprise.
In order of points awarded, the RSM Classic, a typical season-ending event on the PGA Tour, rewards the winner at Sea Island with nearly twice as many ranking points as the victor at the DP World Championship. This despite Dubai being home to world number one Rory McIlroy, former number one and current number five Jon Rahm, ninth ranked Matt Fitzpatrick and five other top 30 players in the world.
In contrast, after world number 12 Tony Finau withdrew from the event in Georgia, the shop leader is ranked 30th Seamus Power, fit but without the pedigree of the three mentioned above, nor Shane Lowry or Victor Hovland.
The 50 players playing on the Earth Course have earned their spots through a season-long leaderboard, and Rahm doesn’t find the points system fun at all.
OWGR now ranks events based on the overall strength of the field, and with a full field vs. a limited one, the RSM Classic is rated over 100 points higher than the championship event, therefore points are distributed as such.
Rahm wasn’t afraid to make his feelings known ahead of this week’s event:
“I’m going to be as direct as I can. I think OWGR right now is ridiculous.”
“I understand what they are trying to do with depth of field, but having the best players in the world automatically makes the tournament better,” Rahm added.
“I don’t care what your system says. I think they have made a mistake. I think some aspects could be beneficial, but I think they have devalued the value of the best players.
“The top 30 players of the year shouldn’t be punished because it’s a smaller field.”
“Depth of field does not mean a better tournament. I could go on and on. I think they have been quite wrong in that position.
The official ranking system has already been called into question many times this year, with many questioning its validity after all LIV events were declared as not qualifying for any ranking points.
This has meant a drop in rankings for the likes of Dustin Johnson and 2022 Open Championship winner Cam Smith, something LIV is eager to change going forward.
DP World Tour boss Keith Pelley is already under intense pressure to speak to LIV’s ruling committee, and a wayward speech from one of his own support players can’t help.
“There is no doubt that the Jon Rahm conversation and some of the other notable changes around OWGR will be a topic at our next board meeting,” he said. “It’s prudent to bring it up based on our top players and their feedback.”
“OWGR is a hot topic for many reasons. There were four universities that did a detailed study and all came to the conclusion that world rankings do not necessarily reflect the game of golf. As a result, we implemented a new system. And as with any new system, you evaluate it and tweak it if changes are necessary.”
Rahm insists that beating better players is the way to get more points:
“Would you rather win a tournament when you have the number one player in the world or 30 or 6?” asked the 2021 US Open winner.
“I think it’s more valuable if you’re beating the best players in the world. I think a lot of people would agree and I think it should reflect that.”
That puts Rahm at odds with another anti-LIV player and fellow Ryder Cup player, Rory McIlroy, who has lent his support to the new way of distributing points.
“You have a 50-man field here versus a 144-man field there,” said the FedEX Cup winner.
“So just in terms of how the field strength is calculated, they have 90 more players to contribute to their field strength. So the reason this has 21 points, and the RSM has 39 is that the person who wins the RSM has to beat 139 other guys.”
“You only have to beat 49 other guys here. It’s a much fairer system.”
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