We have to start this latest update with the big news coming out of St. Andrews – the WAGR is being totally overhauled and there are no prizes for guessing which ranking they appear to be using as their new template.
On 20th March 2019 WAGR representatives Ian Scott and John Brown announced at The Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs Annual Meeting that major changes would be made to their ranking from 1st January 2020.
In effect they will be scrapping their existing methodology and adopting an “SPWAR model” (my words, not theirs) with points allocated to events based on field quality and then split amongst the leading players before being depreciated over time.
A formal announcement confirming the above is expected to be made in May 2019 once the details have been finalised by The R&A and USGA.
Here is my analysis of the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) men’s amateur golf rankings as at 31st March 2019 (Quarter 1 – 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 rankings 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. This Quarter obviously covers a short three month period in generally a quiet playing time for most of our players.
If the movement is negative they are 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 much better methodology than the WAGR (who now appear to agree with me) and therefore it is my preferred ranking. For more information on the (current) differences between the two rankings please read my article in the Appendix below.
Conor PURCELL (IRE) is now our leading amateur golfer in the SPWAR. Conor has made a strong start to the year, the highlight being his win in the Australian Amateur Championship in January.
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) remains the highest ranked player in the WAGR at 11th. He is playing a limited early season schedule this year as he focuses on upcoming exams. In one of his few 2019 starts he pulled off another victory, this time in the Major Champions Invitational in Florida at the start of March.
The primary weakness of the WAGR is its lack of any points ageing or amortisation over its two year review period. Results from last week are treated the same as those delivered two years ago which is clearly unhelpful.
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.
Given the expected announcement on changes to the WAGR one would expect their rankings to gravitate towards SPWAR levels in 2020.
Conor PURCELL (IRE) has the best average ranking taking into account the views of both the SPWAR and WAGR.
Interestingly just five players in the SPWAR Top 10 and eleven in its Top 20 make the WAGR equivalents.
There are clearly some material differences between the two rankings. Conor GOUGH (ENG), Tom PLUMB (ENG), Joe PAGDIN (ENG), Robin WILLIAMS (ENG), David LANGLEY (ENG), John MURPHY (IRE) and Billy McKENZIE (ENG) being the most significant amongst our leading players.
There are currently no Welsh players in the Top 30 GB&I lists of either ranking.
At the end of the day it’s up to you to take an objective look at both the SPWAR and WAGR Top 30’s and decide which you think is the most representative.
Jack GAUNT (ENG) is included in the WAGR data above but has played no amateur events this year and turned pro ahead of the PGA EuroPro First Stage Q-School events which started on 3rd April.
Please take a look at the Turned Pro section of this website to view my rolling record of major departures.
My Player Of The Quarter
Conor PURCELL (IRE) is my player of the Quarter.
He narrowly beat Euan WALKER (SCO) who produced some outstanding form in South Africa culminating in a memorable African Amateur championship win.
Conor’s record in the first three months of the year is: –
Australian Amateur SP Qualifying – tied 3rd
Australian Amateur MP – Champion
South African Amateur SP Qualifying – tied 12th
South African Amateur MP – Round of 16
South African Stroke Play Championship – tied 5th
Conor Purcell with the Australian Amateur Trophy (Photo: Golf Australia)
Recent Rankings News
In March 2019 the WAGR announced informally that major changes would be made to their methodology in 2020. A detailed announcement will hopefully be made in the coming months.
On 3rd January 2019 the WAGR announced some minor amendments to their ranking methodology. Fore more information click here – WAGR Notice Regarding 2019 Amendments
From 1st September 2018 the SPWAR started to input U.S. College Division I results immediately. It had previously updated periodically utilising the detailed GolfStat college player rankings which continues for Division II.
On 21st June 2018 the WAGR updated its website introducing a number of new features.
Amateur Tournament Ranking
The SPWAR maintains a rolling Amateur Event Ranking which whilst interesting in itself also shows how Mr. Solomon assesses the leading events.
In 2018 The Amateur Championship (2nd), World Amateur Team (5th), St. Andrews Links Trophy (7th), European Amateur (8th), European Amateur Team (14th) and Lytham Trophy (18th) all featured in the Top 20 worldwide list of amateur competitions.
The Brabazon Trophy fell from 16th to 41st and the Scottish Open Amateur fell from tied 22nd to 64th this year in terms of the quality of their fields. The Irish Amateur Open rose from 35th to 23rd in 2018.
Click here to view the – SPWAR Amateur Event Ranking
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.
Appendix 1 – Previous Golf Bible Player Of The Quarter Results
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.
The COMBINED list (shown below) provides an interesting aggregation of the two leading amateur rankings and of course gives me something to do at each quarter end.
Appendix 3 – Historic Amateur Rankings
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