January 2020 Update
WAGR released their new Power Method ranking for the first time on 13th January 2020. This was delayed from 8th January and covered the playing period ending on 5th January (Week 1 2020).
The changes that have resulted to the rankings of the top 60 GB&I players given the new methodology now being used by WAGR are tabulated below: –
Ronan MULLARNEY (IRL) 73rd (was 44th), Bradley BAWDEN (ENG) 272nd (was 159th) and Kieran CANTLEY (SCO) 412nd (was 373rd) all remain in the new release despite having turned Pro. I have excluded them from the above analysis. Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) has finally been removed this week.
The 15th January 2020 release, covering the playing period ending on 12th January (Week 2 2020), will see further movement in these rankings. This is because the results from two big events, the Australian Master of the Amateurs and South American Open Amateur Championship, will be added.
Here is my analysis of the Great British & Irish (GB&I) men’s amateur golf rankings as at 31st December 2019 (Quarter 4 – 2019).
I focus my attention on the two leading amateur rankings, the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) and the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). More information on these two lists can be found in the Appendix below.
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 movements shown below are negative a player is moving up the ranking and if it is positive they have fallen during the period under review.
The table below shows the Top 30 GB&I players in the SPWAR as well as their ranking movement in the year to date.
I believe the SPWAR has a better methodology than the WAGR and therefore it is my preferred ranking. For more information on the differences between the two rankings please read my article on this in Appendix 2 below.
Ranked 13th in the world Ben JONES (ENG) is the leading GB&I amateur golfer in the SPWAR at the end of December. Ben moved above Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL) following his 5th place finish at the South Beach International Amateur in December.
The ‘SPWAR Movement’ column above highlights Jack FLOYDD (ENG), Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL), Ben SCHMIDT (ENG), Angus FLANAGAN (ENG), Sam BROADHURST (ENG), Olly HUGGINS (ENG), Callum FARR (ENG) and Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG) as the biggest climbers in 2019.
Jack FLOYDD has played few amateur events this year accumulating nearly all his ranking points on the professional Alps and MENA Tours.
John MURPHY (IRE) is the only (remaining) player in the top 30 not to have improved their SPWAR in 2019, albeit retaining a top 100 ranking is no mean achievement given the competition.
The table below shows the Top 30 GB&I players in the WAGR as well as their ranking movement in the year to date.
Conor GOUGH (ENG) is the highest ranked player in the WAGR in 3rd place. Conor played little golf in 2019 as he was studying for his GCSE’s. Despite this he won the English Amateur Championship and the Duke of York Junior Champions event.
Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) rose 4,661 places in 2019 to 10th spot. This is due to some excellent play, primarily his Brabazon Trophy and Carris Trophy wins, but also a poor quality opening WAGR which didn’t properly assess his good play, including a further three victories, in 2018.
The two main weaknesses of the WAGR are its lack of any points amortisation over its two year review period and the use of a divisor (for rounds played) which negatively impacts more active players. Gough and Schmidt finished the year with divisors of 52 and 41 respectively. In my opinion players need to have a minimum divisor of 75 before their ranking can be taken seriously.
Alex GLEESON (IRE) chose to go travelling in 2019 and as such hasn’t played in any events since February 2019. The fact he has improved his WAGR by 38 places and is now ranked 64th in the world highlights a major issue with the current WAGR. In the SPWAR Alex fell from 145th to 961st which seems more appropriate to me given his recent inactivity.
Health issues prevented David HAGUE (ENG) and Charlie STRICKLAND (ENG) playing a full schedule in 2019 but both have maintained their WAGR positions.
The year end WAGR includes Ronan MULLARNEY (IRL) 44th, Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) 52nd and Bradley BAWDEN (ENG) 159th all of whom have turned Pro. Ben turned pro on 1st October ahead of competing in the European Tour First Stage Q-School event at Frilford Heath G.C. All of these players were removed promptly from the SPWAR.
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 (scores v. finishing positions), events included, field assessments, points allocation and ageing and treatment of team events.
Players are shown 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.
Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) just edges out Ben JONES (ENG) on the average ranking list taking into account the views of both the SPWAR and WAGR.
Twenty one players in the SPWAR Top 30 make the WAGR equivalent.
There are clearly some material differences between the two rankings. Conor GOUGH (ENG), Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG), Charlie STRICKLAND (ENG), Robin WILLIAMS (ENG), Curtis KNIPES (ENG), Joe PAGDIN (ENG), Daniel O’LOUGHLIN (ENG) and David HAGUE (ENG) being the most significant amongst our leading players.
Archie DAVIES is the only Welsh player to make the top 30 in either ranking. He is 176th in the WAGR (23rd in GB&I).
I would recommend that like me you take an objective look at both the SPWAR and WAGR Top 30’s and decide which you think is the most representative of our amateur golfers.
Bradley BAWDEN (ENG), Eoin LEONARD (IRL), Ronan MULLARNEY (IRL), James NEWTON (ENG) and Conor PURCELL (IRL) all turned professional in Quarter 4.
Kieran CANTLEY (SCO) announced his intention to turn pro on 1st January 2020 after coming through Alps Tour Q-School.
Please take a look at the Turned Pro section of this website to view my rolling record of notable departures.
My Player Of The Quarter
Due to the small number of events in Quarter 4 I have not selected a Player Of The Quarter.
Jake BOLTON (ENG) can consider himself a little unfortunate. Jake was considered for Quarter 3 after winning the Scottish Amateur Open Championship at the end of August but missed out to Sandy SCOTT (SCO). This Quarter he finished 4th, the highest placed GB&I player, in the South Beach International Amateur in December. However, I will only make an award for a top 3 finish at the SBIA.
Recent Rankings News
On 20th November 2019 WAGR announced that they would be introducing a new methodology, called the ‘Power Method’, from 8 January 2020.
The new WAGR system will work 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 led to players protecting their ranking by simply not playing.
SPWAR Amateur Tournament Ranking
The SPWAR also 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
2020 will see the ranking updated three times; once after the NCAA Division I National Championship, then after the U.S. Amateur Championship and finally at the end of the year.
I have included three Appendices below – one showing my previous Player’s Of The Quarter, another providing some more information on the two main Rankings and finally one showing historic Quarterly Ranking spreadsheets dating back to December 2015.
Appendix 1 – Previous Golf Bible Player Of The Quarter Results
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) – No GB&I filter is available so each home nation needs to be viewed individually
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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