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How Do the World Golf Rankings Work?

by M.L. Rose

    This article is one of our editor's top picks this month.

    The Official World Golf Ranking involves a mathematical formula that rates the world’s top professional golfers. Achieving a high enough ranking assures players of automatic entry into numerous tournaments. Additionally, there’s a major prestige factor -- and plenty of endorsement money -- available to world’s No. 1-ranked professional golfer.

    Universal Acceptance

    Golf’s major governing bodies, such as the United States Golf Association and the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, as well as hosts of the world’s four major championships, including the Royal & Ancient Club and Augusta National Golf Club accept the World Golf Rankings. The rankings are also accepted by the PGA Tour, the European Tour, Asian Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia, Sunshine Tour (Africa) and the Japan Golf Tour.

    Formula

    Golfers receive points based on their performance and the quality of their competition. Players may score points on the Canadian, OneAsia, South American, Korean, Nationwide and European Challenge tours as well as on the six major pro tours. Points remain on a player’s tally for two years (up to a maximum of 52 events played during that time), but they’re reduced on a sliding scale after 13 weeks, so recent performances carry greater weight. A player’s points are divided by the number of tournaments in which he’s played during the previous two years, with a minimum of 40 tournaments necessary to achieve a ranking. The World Golf Rankings are published each Monday after the weekend’s play is complete.

    Major Points

    Players receive the most points for winning a major tournament. The victors of the Masters, the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open and the British Open receive 100 points apiece, with runners-up scoring 60 and third-place finishers earning 40. Everyone who makes the cut and completes four rounds of a major receives at least 1.5 points. The Players Championship is the next most prestigious event, with 80 points going to the winner. The champion of the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour receives at least 64 points. By comparison, winning a standard PGA Tour or European Tour event earns the winner 24 points.

    Qualifying

    Scoring well in the rankings is a golfer’s ticket to the world’s most prestigious tournaments. For example, the Masters accepts the top 50 players from the previous year’s rankings, plus the top 50 from the most recent rankings prior to the Masters. The top 50 players in the rankings are also eligible to compete in the British Open and The Players Championship. The top 60 may play in the U.S. Open.

    About the Author

    M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

    Photo Credits

    • Chris Graythen/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images