September 2021 Update
Here is my analysis of the Great British & Irish (GB&I) men’s amateur golf rankings as at 30th September 2021 (Quarter 3 – 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, driven by the coronavirus pandemic and the early playing of the 2021 Walker Cup, has suffered over the summer with large numbers of our leading players turning professional and as a result fields being weaker than normal.
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 31st (22nd in June 2021) in the world at the end of September Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) remains GB&I’s leading amateur golfer in the SPWAR. Alex, now a 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 the huge progress made by Callum BRUCE (SCO), Harley SMITH (ENG), Jack BIGHAM (ENG), Zach CHEGWIDDEN (ENG), Andrew NI (SCO) and Robert MORAN (IRL) during the year.
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 (unchanged from June 2021), finished the Quarter as the No. 1 ranked player in the GB&I WAGR.
Jack COPE (ENG), Connor WILSON (SCO), Laird SHEPHERD (ENG), Callan BARROW (ENG), Robert MORAN (IRL) and Alan FAHY (IRL) are the players who have risen furthest in the WAGR top 30 in 2021.
Based on their WAGR listings Finigan TILLY (ENG) has been added to the above lists whilst Connor MCKINNEY (SCO) has been removed. Tilly (23) has been California-based for sometime and is now a graduate student at the University of California but was born in London. Connor appears to have now adopted Australia as his primary nationality, where he has lived for some time. In 2019 Connor represented Scotland in both the Boys’ and Men’s Home Internationals and GB&I in the Jacques Léglise Trophy match.
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.
Jack BROOKS (ENG), Zach CHEGWIDDEN (ENG), Calum SCOTT (SCO), Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL), Calum BRUCE (SCO), Harley SMITH (ENG) and Hugh FOLEY (IRL) 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.
Archie DAVIES has moved into the GB&I top 10 in both the SPWAR and WAGR after a number of good results for East Tennessee State University in 2021. He and James ASHFIELD are the only Welsh players featuring in this analysis.
Jack DYER (ENG), Joe LONG (ENG), Dev MORLEY (IRL), Rhys NEVIN (ENG) and James WILSON (SCO) 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
John GOUGH (ENG) is my Quarter 3 2021 Player Of The Quarter.
Gough enjoyed a superb summer winning the Palmetto Amateur in USA before coming home and winning the English Amateur Championship.
He also finished tied 3rd in the Brabazon Trophy and 3rd at the South East of England Links Championship.
His W5/H1/L0 and W4/H0/L2 winning records at the Men’s Home Internationals and English Men’s County Finals respectively also saw his form continue into September.
John Gough (Photo: England Golf / Leaderboard Photography)
An honourable mention to Harley SMITH (ENG) who memorably won both the U18 Carris and U16 McGregor Trophies during this period.
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 sadly not even be in the top 50 amateur events played in 2021, at least based on the quality of its participants.
Other Rankings News
Data Golf Amateur Ranking
Another ranking, Data Golf, has started to gain some traction with professional and amateur players in 2021, particularly those based in the USA.
Click here to view the – Data Golf Amateur Ranking
The Data Golf Amateur Rankings are determined by averaging the field strength-adjusted scores of each golfer, with recent rounds receiving more weight. The index listed on the ranking – the DG Index – is this weighted average (adjusted slightly for players with fewer rounds played), and should be interpreted as their expectation for a golfer’s next performance, in units of strokes-gained relative to an average golfer in the Division 1 NCAA Championship, which they estimate to be about 2.3 strokes worse per round than an average PGA Tour field. That is, an amateur golfer with a DG index of +3 would be expected to beat the D1 NCAA Championship field by 3 strokes per round, and a PGA Tour field by 0.7 strokes per round.
The data used to form this ranking includes any US college event that is listed on Golfstat, any WAGR-sanctioned events, and any professional events that amateurs happen to play in. To be eligible for the amateur rankings, a golfer must be an amateur, and have played at least 20 rounds in the last 2 years and at least 1 round in the previous 12 months. Data Golf explain more about their approach and how the rankings compare to those of the WAGR in this article – Using The True Strokes-Gained Metric In Amateur Golf.
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.
Velocity Global PGA Tour University Ranking
On 1st June 2020 the PGA Tour announced its PGA Tour University program.
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. The 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 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.
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.
The ranking ran for the first time in the 2020/21 season.
On 7th September 2021 Velocity Global was named the ‘presenting sponsor’ of the ranking.
The PGA Tour University Ranking List is updated weekly during the collegiate season on the back of the WAGR release.
The Class of 2022 Ranking will be finalised on 30th May 2022 following the conclusion of the NCAA Division I Men’s National Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The current 2022 list can be viewed here – PGA Tour University Ranking.
Appendix 1 – Previous Golf Bible Player Of The Quarter Results
September 2021 – John GOUGH (ENG)
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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