World Rankings Hinder Euro Golfers
by Ian Bradley
The Glasgow Herald
The Official World Golf Rankings, the contentious system which rankles European players in particular, came under serious fire on the eve of the World Match Play tournament.
The methodology of determining the leading players and who can participate in the new world championship events is criticised by Dean Knuth, a former USGA official responsible for devising the Slope handicapping system now
used in the United States.
Knuth has compiled and alternative ranking code, which has now been submitted to the US PGA Tour for consideration.
"The current strength-of-field factor penalises the top Europeans becausemost of the 'heavyweight' points are used on the US Tour," claimed Knuth, who was commissioned for this project by the leading magazine, Golf Digest.
"The Europeans are good enough to beat the Americans in the Ryder Cup, but 40 of the current top 50 ranked players are regulars on the US Tour because 53% of all points are played for in America.
"As a result, the strength-of-field weighting on the European Tour has diminished and the likes of Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood don't get the points commensurate with their high level of play.
"If the top home tour players are competing in a European event they should get comparable points to a US Tour tournament."
Knuth insists that David Duval, with nine victories and 18 top-10 finishes in 30 starts, is undisputably the world's No. 1 player and not Tiger Woods, and weaknesses in the present system were responsible for this anomaly.
Points on offer in the Australian and Japanese Tour should be halved because of their weak fields. If this happened Jumbo Ozaki, his brother Joe, Frankie Minoza, and Carlos Franco would immediately drop out of the top 64 players in the world who are guaranteed places in the evolving world tour.
"The world rankings is overseen by a board comprising leaders of the world's major golf organisations and tours with IMG founder Mark McCormack as chairman, but it has no mathematicians," added Knuth. "The rankings
didn't rankle us too much before, because they were not really important, but now they are as they are being used to help answer the thorniest question in golf: who gets to play in all the majors and two of the new World Golf Championships?
"It is clear that the rankings uses a primitive mathematical moving average. It is a quirky, slow-to-respond system which few people understand, much less agree with."
While IMG refined their ranking procedure last year to make it more equitable, many European players believe they are still disadvantaged. Any move to make the playing field more level will be warmly welcomed.