Rankings

March 2022 Update

Here is my analysis of the Great British & Irish (GB&I) men’s amateur golf rankings as at 31st March 2022 (Quarter 1 – 2022).

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.

Pleasingly fields are starting to recover to pre-pandemic levels and it currently looks like 2022 will be an uninterrupted season.

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 whilst if it is positive they will 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 33rd in the world Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG) continues to be GB&I’s leading amateur golfer in the SPWAR. John GOUGH‘s (ENG) win at the Spanish International Amateur has seen him move above former No. 1 Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG).

The ‘SPWAR Movement’ column highlights the progress made in Quarter 1 2022 by John GOUGH (ENG), Rory FRANSSEN (SCO), Robert MORAN (IRL), Frank KENNEDY (ENG) and Jon HOPKINS (ENG).

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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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Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG), who is 6th, is the No. 1 ranked GB&I player in the WAGR.

Josh HILL (ENG), John GOUGH (ENG), Rory FRANSSEN (SCO), Jack BIGHAM (ENG), Frank KENNEDY (ENG), Lewis IRVINE (SCO), Calum SCOTT (SCO), Harley SMITH (ENG), Zach CHEGWIDDEN (ENG) and George ASH (IRL) have all made positive jumps in the WAGR top 30 in the early part of 2022.

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The March 2022 WAGR still includes Rhys NEVIN-WHARTON (ENG), at 213th, in its list of the top 30 GB&I amateurs. He turned professional in August 2021 so has been excluded from my analysis.

Finigan TILLY, ranked 245th in the world at the end of March, is also shown as English in the WAGR. Whilst he was born in London he has lived most of his life in California and I am assured sees himself as American so he too has been removed.

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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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Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG)has replaced Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) as GB&I’s ‘Combined No.1’ based on his average ranking across both the SPWAR and WAGR.

Jack COPE (ENG), Hugh FOLEY (IRL), Zach CHEGWIDDEN (ENG), Jack BROOKS (ENG) and Liam NOLAN (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 sits in the GB&I top 10 in both the SPWAR and WAGR after a number of good results for East Tennessee State University over the last 12 months. He is the only Welsh player featuring in this analysis although James ASHFIELD and LUKE HARRIES are not too far away.

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Turned Pro

No elite GB&I amateurs have turned pro in Quarter 1 2022.

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

Rory FRANSSEN (SCO) is my Quarter 1 2022 Player Of The Quarter.

Rory made a great start to the 2022 season in South Africa and has continued to play well on his return to Europe: –

South African Amateur Championship SP Qualifying – 7th
South African Amateur Championship MP – Runner-Up
African Amateur Championship – Tied 12th
South African Amateur Stroke Play Championship – 3rd
Spanish International Amateur Championship SP Qualifying – Tied 19th
Spanish International Amateur Championship MP – Quarter Finals

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 (Photo: Golf RSA)

The last two ‘winners’ John GOUGH (ENG), who won the Spanish International Amateur, and Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG) have continued their good form into 2022 and have pushed Rory hard for this quarters award.

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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 has been reluctant to produce a SPWAR list for 2020 and 2021 considering it unrepresentative to do so given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The next SPWAR event ranking will be published at the end of the 2022 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 2022 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. For comparison purposes the 2020 and 2021 tables are shown in Appendix 4 below.

The following tables continue to highlight the strength of U.S. collegiate golf which as more and more players choose to go down this route impacts the field strengths seen elsewhere.

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Other Rankings News

Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking

Fred Solomon is looking to retire and handover the reins of his ranking. He has been marketing the sale of an 80% stake in his business since mid-2021. It is hard to see how anyone will be able to take this massive undertaking on and maintain the high standards that have been seen since 2008 without investing significant resources. I for one will continue to enjoy the SPWAR while I still can but it’s days now appear to be numbered.

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 24th March 2022 WAGR launched a re-designed website to aid overall user experience via improved search functionality and faster data downloads.

On 28th October 2021 WAGR announced five updates to its methodology. These covered the topics of International Participation, Remaining Ranked, Event Withdrawals, Mixed Gender Events and Limit On Course Use.

International Participation – due to the impact of COVID-19 and ongoing travel restrictions WAGR will now analyse the results from non-collegiate individual amateur events with calculated pre-pandemic Powers greater than 400 and international ranked player participation levels of at least 15 percent. If the Power does not reach or exceed 80 percent of its level prior to COVID-19, the Power will be manually raised to that 80 percent level. This procedure will continue until such adjustments are no longer being made to the vast majority of the eligible events.

Remaining Ranked – in order to remain ranked, a player must earn at least four points in a single event result within the previous 52 weeks. This requirement will become effective from the first update in 2022.

Event Withdrawals – Due to a substantial rise in withdrawals in 2021WAGR will be making it harder for a player to appeal for the removal of a zero-point divisor.

Mixed Gender Events – WAGR will be continuing to allow the results of female players in mostly male competitions, even if they play off advanced tees, to count as long as they are fully eligible for the main event prize.

Limit On Course Use – In 2022 individual courses will be limited to staging three WAGR eligible competitions per gender in a calendar year.

The full announcement can be read here – Important WAGR Updates (28/10/21)

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”. Elizabeth Moser was appointed to this role in May 2021.

PGA Tour University Velocity Global 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.

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PGA Tour University Velocity Global Ranking Trophy

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.

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 Class of 2022 Ranking was 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 full 2022 list can be viewed here – PGA Tour University Ranking.

Pierceson COODY (USA / Texas) finished in the top spot.

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Pierceson Coody (Photo: Taylor Crosby / PGA TOUR)

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Appendices

Appendix 1 – Previous Golf Bible Player Of The Quarter Results

March 2022 – Rory FRANSSEN (SCO)

December 2021 – Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG)
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.

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Screenshot 2021-10-14 at 04.42.32

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Screenshot 2021-01-11 at 23.22.30

Screenshot 2020-10-01 at 08.34.23

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Screenshot 2019-10-03 at 21.12.38

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Assessment

Appendix 4 – 2021 and 2020 WAGR Event Rankings

Here are the 2021 and 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.

2021

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2020

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ME.

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