The Official World Golf Ranking announced two wonky changes for 2024. Here's what they actually mean
In its ever-evolving efforts to accurately gauge players’ abilities across the spectrum of men’s professional golf—with the notable exception still of LIV Golf League events—the governing board of the Official World Golf Ranking announced Thursday a pair of updates to its system beginning in 2024. One has the distinct scent of irony; it addresses limited-field no-cut tournaments.
According to an OWGR release, a new “points distribution curve” will be applied to official OWGR events that have fields of 80 or fewer competitors, with a greater percentage of available points (around 21 percent compared to the usual 17 to 18 percent) allocated to top finishers. This would apply to the majority of the “signature events” on the PGA Tour in 2024, which will have smaller fields.
“Following internal and independent analysis, OWGR determined its standard distribution curve did not accurately reflect performances in these events,” read an explainer from the OWGR.
Meanwhile, if such events have no cut (again the case for several of the upcoming signature events, including The Sentry, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, RBC Heritage, Wells Fargo Championship and Travelers Championship), the number of players receiving points will be limited. Approximately 15 percent of the finishers at the bottom of tournament standings will walk away without any points. Likewise, in any match-play tournaments, first-round losers or players who fail to win any match in a pool format won’t earn points.
The effective impact of this change will be that players competing in limited-field, no-cut events are no longer guaranteed points simply for having qualified to play in the event. Players will have to perform in order to be rewarded for competing, a criticism of the system previously where tour pros who shooting high scores were still rewarded simply for finishing 72 holes.
Interestingly, had this policy been in place this year, the three bottom finishers at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month would not have received World Ranking points. That would have included Tiger Woods, who finished 18th and was able to jump from 1,328th to 898th in the OWGR.
There are a few exceptions to tournaments where these changes will apply. The OWGR noted that season-ending events on various tours are exempt from. Points still will be awarded to all players in FedEx Cup Playoff events on the PGA Tour, the DP World Championship and the Nippon Series JT Cup on the Japan Tour, among others.
The second broader change is more basic: the OWGR will reward a 60-percent points bonus to a player who wins twice on any eligible tour in a 52-week period and a 70-percent bonus to a player who wins three or more times.
On its website, the OWGR noted that players with lower World Ranking are likely to gain more from the bonus. The organization reports that since 2019 there has been an average of 63 players per year with two wins in a 52-week period and 39 winners of three or more events. The bonus system was instituted “to more quickly identify emerging talent,” according to its website.
“Based on extensive analysis following the changes implemented in August 2022, we recognized these two opportunities to further enhance the OWGR and to accurately evaluate performances of the world’s participating players on all eligible Tours,” said Official World Golf Ranking Chairman Peter Dawson. “Adjustments to the Ranking are made after careful consideration, and we are confident that today’s updates will better position the OWGR for the future.”
The latest changes are the first since August 2022, when the OWGR overhauled its algorithm with a new Strokes Gained World Rating system that rewarded players competing in stronger fields. Of course, the OWGR took a pass on further updates in October when it denied LIV Golf’s application to be included in the rankings.
Scottie Scheffler is set to finish 2023 as No. 1 in the OWGR, having held the top spot since May.