June 2021 Update
Here is my analysis of the Great British & Irish (GB&I) men’s amateur golf rankings as at 30th June 2021 (Quarter 2 – 2021).
I focus my attention on the two leading amateur rankings, the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) and the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). I favour the SPWAR over the WAGR as I believe it has a better overall methodology. For more information on the two rankings please see Appendix 2 below.
GB&I amateur golf in Quarter 2, driven by the coronavirus pandemic and the early playing of the 2021 Walker Cup, has been marked by large numbers of our leading players turning professional and weaker than normal event fields.
I compare each player’s quarter end ranking with their position at the start of the year to help establish their performance trend throughout the year.
If the movement shown in one of the tables below is negative a player is moving up the ranking and if they are positive they have fallen during the period.
The table below shows the Top 30 GB&I players in the SPWAR as well as their ranking movement in the year to date.
Ranked 22nd in the world at the end of June Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) remains GB&I’s leading amateur golfer in the SPWAR. Alex, a returning junior at Wake Forest University in USA, won the Valspar Collegiate and finished 2nd in the Jones Cup Invitational earlier in 2021.
The ‘SPWAR Movement’ column highlights Laird SHEPHERD (ENG), Zach CHEGWIDDEN (ENG), Andrew NI (SCO), Archie DAVIES (WAL), Ruben LINDSAY (SCO), Calum SCOTT (SCO) and Josh HILL (ENG) as the biggest climbers in the top 30 in Quarter 2 2021.
Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL), Connor MCKINNEY (SCO) Mason ESSAM (ENG) and Joe HARVEY (ENG) are the biggest fallers.
The table below shows the Top 30 GB&I players in the WAGR as well as their ranking movement in the year to date.
Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG), who is 4th, finished the Quarter as the No. 1 ranked player in the GB&I WAGR.
Surprisingly Sandy SCOTT (SCO), who has not recorded a top 10 finish since February 2020 and has not played competitively since October 2020 when he injured his wrist whilst playing for Texas Tech University, remains in the top 10. Another example of how the WAGR all too often rewards players for not playing.
Jack COPE (ENG), Callan BARROW (ENG), James WILSON (ENG), Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) and Josh HILL (ENG) are the players who have risen furthest in the WAGR top 30 in 2021.
The table below considers the difference between each player’s WAGR and SPWAR ranking.
There are a number of factors at play here, such as each ranking’s core methodology (now much closer), events included, field assessments, points allocation and ageing and treatment of team events.
Players are shown in this table in order of their average ranking across both lists.
A positive figure shows that the SPWAR is ranking the player more highly while a negative figure indicates that the WAGR has appreciated their play more.
Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) is GB&I’s ‘Combined No.1’ based on his average ranking across both the SPWAR and WAGR.
Sandy SCOTT (SCO), Jack BROOKS (ENG), Calum SCOTT (SCO), Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL), Laird SHEPHERD (ENG), Connor MCKINNEY (SCO) and James WILSON (ENG) all have ranking differentials in excess of 200 places amongst our leading players. If you study these players results in detail I am confident you will conclude that the SPWAR is the more accurate ranking of the two.
Brothers Sandy and Calum Scott both have large differentials but are treated oppositely by the two rankings. Sandy is favoured by the WAGR whilst the SPWAR rates Calum more highly.
Archie DAVIES has moved into the top 30 in both the SPWAR and WAGR after a number of good results for East Tennessee State University in 2021. He is the only Welsh player featuring in this analysis.
Harry Goddard (ENG), Charlie Strickland (ENG), Callum Farr (ENG), Tom McKibbin (IRL), Matty Lamb (ENG), Ben Jones (ENG), Ben Schmidt (ENG), Angus Flanagan (ENG), Jake Bolton (ENG), John Murphy (ENG), Daniel O’Loughlin (ENG), Rowan Lester (IRL), Jensen Hull (ENG), Max Martin (ENG) and Robin Williams (ENG) have all turned pro in recent months.
Please refer to the Turned Pro section of this website to view my rolling record of departures.
My Player Of The Quarter
Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) is my Quarter 2 2021 Player Of The Quarter.
Laird overcame back and knee injuries over the last 18 months, and perhaps even more impressively an 8Down deficit after 17 holes, to win The Amateur Championship at The Nairn Golf Club.
Laird Shepherd (Photo: The Nairn Golf Club)
Amateur Tournament Rankings
Historically the SPWAR has produced an annual Amateur Tournament Ranking which whilst interesting in itself shows how Mr. Solomon assesses the leading events – a function of field quality (based on players in the SPWAR’s Top 1,000 at the start of play), field size and event length.
However, he was reluctant to update the SPWAR’s list for 2020 considering it unrepresentative to do so given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The next SPWAR event ranking is therefore expected to be published at the end of the 2021 calendar year.
Click here to view the 2019 – SPWAR Amateur Tournament Ranking
The WAGR‘s ‘Power Method’ has provided greater clarity as to their approach to event ranking. Specific ‘power numbers’ for each event have replaced the broad letter categories of the old system.
I have used these ‘power numbers’ to create three 2021 Year To Date WAGR event rankings – U.S. Collegiate, International and GB&I. My lists below are restricted to events that have featured GB&I players and will be updated as the year progresses. For comparison purposes the 2020 tables are shown in Appendix 4 below.
The tables highlight the continuing strength of U.S. collegiate golf but sadly the relatively poor standard of fields that have been competing in GB&I in 2021.
Based on the WAGR’s ‘power numbers’ The Amateur Championship will do well to feature in the top 50 amateur events of 2021 come the end off the season.
Other Rankings News
World Amateur Golf Ranking
On 31st March 2021 The R&A paged the role of WAGR Manager “to oversee the successful delivery of the WAGR and World Rankings for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) outcomes”. The role is responsible amongst other things for the “management and development of a team of four co-ordinators, responsible for processing events and liaising with event organisers and players”.
I have not seen any public announcement on who the successful candidate was.
PGA Tour University Ranking
On 1st June 2020 the PGA Tour announced its PGA Tour University program.
The program was designed to help the leading U.S. College golfers transition on to the PGA Tour through one of its four satellite tours; the Korn Ferry Tour, Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and PGA TOUR Series – China.
A PGA Tour University Ranking List for NCAA Division I golfers entering their fourth year of collegiate play and covering their final two year’s results was established. This focus on Seniors is to encourage more students to complete their educations and ensure they are a little older and wiser before making the jump into the pro ranks.
The Ranking is based on the World Amateur Golf Ranking and includes all NCAA Division I Men’s Golf events, official PGA Tour events and Major Championship performances. No other performances are included in the analysis.
A player has to compete in a minimum of nine events, including the NCAA Division I Men’s Regional Championship, during their final Senior year.
The PGA Tour University Ranking List is updated weekly during the collegiate season on the back of the WAGR release.
Starting in 2021, the leading 15 players on the the final PGA Tour University Ranking List (shown below), finalised after the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Division I Golf Championship, will be awarded the following full tour memberships: –
Ranked 1st – 5th
Korn Ferry Tour ~
– including an exemption into the Final Stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament.
Eleven 72-hole Korn Ferry Tour events are scheduled to be played from early June and the Tour Championship in August.
The Final 2021 PGA Tour University Ranking – 1st to 5th
Ranked 6th – 15th
– including an exemption into the 2nd Stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament.
Players were originally to choose a place on either the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada or PGA TOUR Series – China but due to COVID-19 the PGA Tour changed this. On 22nd April it announced the formation of the Forme Tour, primarily to help US-based PGA TOUR Canada members, and confirmed the PGA Tour University places 6 -15 would transfer across to it.
Eight 72-hole Forme Tour events are to be staged between late June and early to September 2021.
The Final 2021 PGA Tour University Ranking – 6th to 15th
From a GB&I perspective Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) 11th was the only player to benefit from this opportunity in 2021.
There remains no direct entry available on to the PGA Tour for college golfers. Like all others they will need to finish in the top 25 on the Korn Ferry Tour’s year-long points list to earn promotion to the PGA Tour.
Moving forward the up to date list can be viewed here – PGA Tour University Ranking.
Appendix 1 – Previous Golf Bible Player Of The Quarter Results
June 2021 – Laird SHEPHERD (ENG)
March 2021 – Jack DYER (ENG)
December 2020 – Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG)
September 2020 – Joe LONG (ENG)
June 2020 – No award made due to the limited number of events played.
March 2020 – Ben SCHMIDT (ENG)
December 2019 – No award made due to the limited number of events played.
September 2019 – Sandy SCOTT (SCO)
June 2019 – Euan WALKER (SCO)
March 2019 – Conor PURCELL (IRL)
December 2018 – Jake BURNAGE (ENG)
September 2018 – Conor GOUGH (ENG)
June 2018 – Mitch WAITE (ENG)
March 2018 – Billy MCKENZIE (ENG)
December 2017 – Ben JONES (ENG)
September 2017 – Todd CLEMENTS (ENG)
June 2017 – Matthew JORDAN (ENG)
March 2017 – Jack DAVIDSON (WAL)
December 2016 – No award made due to the limited number of events played.
September 2016 – David BOOTE (WAL)
June 2016 – Scott GREGORY (ENG)
March 2016 – Jack HUME (IRL)
Appendix 2 – Ranking Notes
To view the two main amateur rankings referred to above please click the links below: –
Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) – apply GB&I filter in the top right hand corner
World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) – select all four home countries to create a GB&I filter.
There is no question in my mind that the SPWAR is the most accurate amateur golf ranking. I discussed the reasons for this in an article I originally wrote in February 2016 (and have subsequently updated a few times since) – ‘Why The SPWAR Is Better Than The WAGR’.
However, the WAGR is undoubtedly the most important ranking because of the credibility given to it by both The R&A and the USGA and because it is used by many events, particularly outside of the USA, to assist with entry eligibility.
As I am not a player and am not running a tournament, but am solely interested in assessing who are GB&I’s best amateur golfers, my personal preference is for the SPWAR.
Appendix 3 – Historic Amateur Rankings
My COMBINED list, shown below, provides an aggregation of the two leading amateur rankings and of course gives me something to do at each quarter end.
Appendix 4 – 2020 WAGR Event Rankings
Here are the 2020 WAGR event rankings based on it’s allocated ‘power numbers’. There is one each for U.S. Collegiate, International and GB&I events. Each list is restricted to events that have featured GB&I players.
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