Rankings

June 2020 Update

Here is my analysis of the Great British & Irish (GB&I) men’s amateur golf rankings as at 30th June 2020 (Quarter 2 – 2020).

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.

The coronavirus pandemic means virtually no events have been played in Quarter 2 but some movements have taken place due to points depreciation and transfers out to the professional ranks.

I compare each player’s quarter end ranking with their position at the start of the year to help establish their performance trends.

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.

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The table below shows the Top 30 GB&I players in the SPWAR as well as their ranking movement in the year to date.

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Ranked 6th in the world at the end of June Ben JONES (ENG) has retained his place as the leading GB&I amateur golfer in the SPWAR. Ben enjoyed a strong tour of Australia and a top 5 finish in a subsequent MENA Tour event in early 2020.

The ‘SPWAR Movement’ column highlights Haider HUSSAIN (ENG), Harry GODDARD (ENG), Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL), Olly HUGGINS (ENG), Charlie STRICKLAND (ENG), Joe LONG (ENG), Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG), Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) and Callum FARR (ENG) as the biggest climbers in the top 30 so far in 2020.

The SPWAR has continued to age points in its ranking throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The table below shows the Top 30 GB&I players in the WAGR as well as their ranking movement in the year to date.

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WAGR released their new ‘Power Method’ ranking on 13th January 2020. For more information on the changes introduced please see the Recent Rankings News section of this article below. Appendix 4 also provides an analysis of the impact on the leading GB&I player rankings at the time of the change.

Sandy SCOTT (SCO) ranked 9th remains the No. 1 ranked player in the GB&I WAGR.

Max MARTIN (ENG), Keith EGAN (IRL), Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG), Sam BROADHURST (ENG), Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL) and Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) have been the biggest climbers in the top 30 so far in 2020.

On 9th April 2020 WAGR announced that as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak they would “pause the ageing process for events on players’ records. This decision was made to ensure players who are unable to play are not unduly disadvantaged. During the ageing pause, a player’s average will not change unless their record has.” [On 6th July WAGR announced that they were to “restart the ageing process within the system….(with) effect from 8th July 2020 (Week 27).”

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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.

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Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) is our ‘Combined No.1’ based on his average ranking across both the SPWAR and WAGR.

In December 2019 21 players who were in the SPWAR Top 30 were also in the WAGR equivalent. In June 2020 the number had risen to 26. This reflects the adoption of the ‘Power Method’ by WAGR which has brought it’s approach closer to that of the SPWAR.

Conor GOUGH (ENG), James WILSON (SCO), Haider HUSSAIN (ENG), Olly HUGGINS (ENG),  Joe PAGDIN (ENG), Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG), Joe LONG (ENG), Callum FARR (ENG) and Connor MCKINNEY (SCO) all have material ranking differentials amongst our leading players.

There are currently no Welsh players in the top 30 of either GB&I ranking. Looking at the highest ranked Welsh players in both lists Jake HAPGOOD (376th) is 45th in the SPWAR and Archie DAVIES (244th) is 32nd in the WAGR.

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Turned Pro

Unsurprisingly given the coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of many events and qualifying schools in the 2020 season no notable GB&I players have turned professional in Quarter 2 2020.

Please refer to the Turned Pro section of this website to view my rolling record of departures.

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My Player Of The Quarter

In view of the lack of activity in Quarter 2 no Player Of The Quarter award has been made.

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Recent Rankings News

PGA Tour University Ranking

On 1st June 2020 the PGA Tour confirmed its plans for the PGA Tour University program. The PGA Tour Policy Board had been working on the plan for two years and first signposted their intentions on 3rd March 2020.

The program is 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 is to be introduced for NCAA Division I golfers who complete a minimum of four years in college. It is possible to be eligible after three years but the player must deliver to the Tour intent and proof of early college graduation. These conditions are important as it should 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 will be based on the World Amateur Golf Ranking methodology and include all NCAA Division I Men’s Golf events, official PGA Tour events and Major Championship performances. Performances in other leading amateur events, such as the Western Amateur, St. Andrews Links Trophy, European Amateur or South Beach International Amateur, will be excluded from the analysis.

Only players entering their fourth year of collegiate play will be included in the Ranking and it will cover their final two year’s results.

A player will also have to compete in a minimum of nine events, including the NCAA Division I Men’s Regional Championship, during their final Senior year.

The first PGA Tour University Ranking List will be unveiled prior to the 2020-21 Division I season commencing with weekly updates provided every Thursday during the season.

The leading 15 players on the the final PGA Tour University Ranking List, produced after the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Division I Golf Championship, will be awarded the following full tour memberships starting from 2021: –

Ranked 1st – 5th
Korn Ferry Tour ~
– including an exemption into the Final Stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament.

~ There are normally 8 or 9 events still to be played from early June onwards.

Ranked 6th – 15th *
PGA TOUR Latinoamérica
Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada
PGA TOUR Series – China
– including an exemption into the 2nd Stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament.

*Players will be able to choose which of these International Tours they wish to play on.

There is 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.

If a top 15 PGA Tour University ranked player wishes to remain amateur to be considered for that year’s Walker Cup or World Amateur Team Championship they must declare this in writing to the PGA Tour within three days following the release of the final list. They will then be able to participate in tournaments as a non-member prior to these major amateur competitions. Thereafter, players will have 10 days following the conclusion of these amateur events to join as a member of the Tours they are eligible for.

WAGR Power Method

WAGR released their new ‘Power Method’ ranking on 13th January 2020. The new system works by: –

(1) assigning a ‘power number’ to each event based on the strength of its starting field.

(2) ranking points will then be allocated to each event based on its ‘power number’. Amateur events will have a maximum of 1,000 points available to them whilst Professional events will have a maximum of 3,000 points.

(3) ranking points will then be shared amongst the players based on their overall finishing positions rather than on the previous round-based approach.

(4) event ageing will then be applied over time. Points from events within the most recent 52 weeks of a player’s record will count in full. Thereafter they will reduce proportionately, by around two percent, per week before expiring after 104 weeks.

(5) Divisors are being retained by WAGR and will become event based rather than round-based. They will also be aged after 52 weeks with a new minimum men’s divisor of eight, irrespective of whether the players are newly ranked or well established.

Click here to read the full WAGR press release – New WAGR Method From 2020

Click here to read the – WAGR Power Method FAQ

The WAGR’s ‘Power Method’ announcement is welcome but in affect an admission that the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking has been superior in the past. I say this because most of the proposed changes essentially move the WAGR closer to the existing SPWAR methodology.

At face value the SPWAR still looks as if it will be the more accurate ranking. Here are the four main reasons why: –

(a) Only applying ageing reductions to points after 12 months is insufficient. A more frequent approach is required, say quarterly as a minimum;

(b) WAGR are still proposing that ‘soft’ Participation Points without a divisor be applied to all players who contest team events, irrespective of the contributions they make; and

(c) WAGR need to include more events and in particular 36 hole competitions, such as Final Qualifying for The Open, like the SPWAR does.

(d) Whilst the WAGR’s Divisors ensure that all event performances are noted, providing a useful overall record, they do bring another layer of complexity when compared with the SPWAR. Worse still they have in the past led to players protecting their ranking by simply not playing.

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Amateur Tournament Rankings

The SPWAR produces 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.

In 2019 The Amateur Championship (2nd), World Amateur Team (5th – albeit not played this year), European Amateur (6th), St. Andrews Links Trophy (7th), European Amateur Team (12th), Lytham Trophy (17th), Brabazon Trophy (20th) and English Amateur (26th) all featured in the Top 30 worldwide list of amateur competitions.

The European Amateur rose from 8th to 6th highlighting how this event is becoming stronger and gaining increased prestige.

The current strength in depth of English golf helped both the Brabazon Trophy and the English Amateur rise in the 2019 ranking. The Brabazon recovered from a lower than normal 41st ranking in 2018 as did the English Amateur moving from 48th into the top 30.

The Scottish Open Amateur also rose from 64th to 51st in 2019. Scottish Golf are returning this event to late May in 2020 after the misguided decision to move it in 2018 to late August where it had become a little irrelevant. Scheduling it adjacent to the St Andrews Links Trophy should ensure a further jump next year.

The Irish Amateur Open fell from 23rd to 49th as it suffered from its move from Royal County Down to the more remote County Sligo.

Click here to view the 2019 – SPWAR Amateur Tournament Ranking

The next event ranking will be published for the 2021 calendar year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The WAGR‘s ‘Power Method’ has provided greater clarity to their event ranking. Specific ‘power numbers’ have replaced the broad letter categories of the old methodology.

I have used these ‘power numbers’ to create YTD 2020 WAGR event rankings – see below. I will be restricting my analysis to events that feature GB&I players and will next update the lists at the end of Quarter 3.

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Appendices

Appendix 1 – Previous Golf Bible Player Of The Quarter Results

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 (IRE)

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 (IRE)

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.

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Assessment

Appendix 4 – The Impact Of The WAGR Power Ranking Changes

WAGR released their new Power Method ranking on 13th January 2020 and covered the playing period ending on 5th January (Week 1 2020).

The initial changes to the rankings of the top 60 GB&I players given the new methodology now being used by WAGR are tabulated below: –

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ME.

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