Rankings movement after Colonial highlights dilemma for foreign players staying at home

June 15, 2020

Collin Morikawa climbed from 44th to 27th in the rankings after losing a playoff at Colonial.

Ronald Martinez

When Daniel Berger won on Sunday at the Charles Schwab Challenge, the victory was the third of his career (all having come in the second week of June, for what that’s worth). It also jumped him from 107th in the Official World Golf Ranking to 31st—a significant leap for all the various perks that being in the upper echelons of the OWGR carries.

Lee Westwood, who was at home in England and didn’t play, meanwhile, dropped from 31st to 33rd.

That Westwood fell a couple of spots and was leapfrogged by Berger while sitting on the couch is nothing new. It happens all the time.

But with the European Tour off until late July because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with Westwood, a member of both the European Tour and the PGA Tour, facing a logistical nightmare should he choose to travel to the U.S. to tee it up on the only major tour in action right now, the Englishman’s options are more limited than that of Berger’s, or anyone who calls the U.S. home as the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour resume their season—and the OWGR became unfrozen—following a three-month hiatus.

There were other snapshots, too.

Runner-up Colin Morikawa climbed from 44th to 27th, one spot ahead of Francesco Molnari, who, like Westwood is a member of both tours and was at home abroad. Eddie Pepperell, watching from his home in England, dropped from 65th to 71st. You get the idea.

“By the time I restart I’m going to be outside the top 100 and 80 yards behind Bryson [DeChambeau],” the witty Pepperell tweeted.

He might not be wrong. Of course, it’s also not wrong to say that Pepperell and anyone else who’s a member of the PGA Tour can play sooner if they so choose.

Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick got clearance to return to the U.S. and his T-32 at Colonial kept him at 25th in the OWGR, right where he began the week. But he also had to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in America, a prospect that’s made more complicated for players and caddies coming from across the pond by the reality of not being able to return home for months. Making that decision can be even more difficult for those with young families.

And then there are the players who are members of the European Tour, or other tours, but not the PGA Tour. The options are even more limited for them—they have none.

What’s the solution?

Well, there isn’t one, other than the OWGR having said in a statement two weeks ago that elements of the averaging formula used to calculate the ranking will help mitigate the issue of some players competing while others aren’t. That the frozen rankings were also used as qualification for the majors is also helpful.

There’s also no easy answer. Somehow limiting OWGR points available from loaded field at Colonial or other upcoming PGA Tour events wouldn’t be equitable either.

How will this affect those from Europe and others unable to tee it up for the foreseeable future? Like everything else in the new normal, time will tell.