December 2020 Update
Here is my analysis of the Great British & Irish (GB&I) men’s amateur golf rankings as at 31st December 2020 (Quarter 4 – 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.
Whilst amateur golf has continued in Quarter 4 the coronavirus pandemic has meant that fields have generally been weaker as some players have been prevented from competing due to travel and quarantine restrictions.
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 10th in the world at the end of the year Joe LONG (ENG) is now GB&I’s leading amateur golfer in the SPWAR. Joe performed well in the summer capping it off by becoming the 2020 Amateur Champion at Royal Birkdale G.C.
The ‘SPWAR Movement’ column highlights Jack COPE (ENG), who won the English Amateur Championship, Callan BARROW (ENG), Haider HUSSAIN (ENG), Marc BOUCHER (IRL), Josh BRISTOW (ENG), Barclay BROWN (ENG) and Enrique DIMAYUGA (ENG) as the biggest climbers in the top 30 in 2020.
The table below shows the Top 30 GB&I players in the WAGR as well as their ranking movement in the year to date.
James SUGRUE (IRL), who is 5th, finished the year as the No. 1 ranked player in the GB&I WAGR. His appearance in the U.S. Masters in November, where he missed the cut, gave his WAGR a material late boost.
Haider HUSSAIN (ENG), Max MARTIN (ENG), Rory FRANSSEN (SCO), Dan BRADBURY (ENG), Luke O’NEILL (IRL), Barclay BROWN (ENG) and Matt CLARK (SCO) were the biggest climbers in the top 30 in 2020.
Sam BROADHURST (ENG) 193rd and Tom THURLOWAY (ENG) 414th have both turned pro over 3 months ago but remain in the year end WAGR. I have excluded both in reaching the ‘GB&I Order’ ranking numbers in this article.
WAGR released their new ‘Power Method’ ranking on 13th January 2020. For more information on the changes made to this ranking please see Appendix 4 below.
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.
Joe LONG (ENG) is GB&I’s ‘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. At the end of the year this number was 22. In June it was 26 but by September had fallen back to 20. This trend reflects the SPWAR continuing with points depreciation throughout the year whilst the WAGR put it on hold between April and July. It also reflects the SPWAR inclusion of 36 hole events which are more prevalent in the summer whilst the WAGR insists on 54 holes for inclusion.
Enrique DIMAYUGA (ENG), Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) and Jack DYER (ENG) all have ranking differentials in excess of 125 places amongst our leading players.
There are currently no Welsh players in the top 30 of either GB&I ranking. Archie DAVIES is the highest ranked Welsh players in both lists; he’s 368th in the SPWAR (42nd GB&I) and 365th in the WAGR (47th).
No GB&I players of note turned professional in Quarter 4 2020.
Please refer to the Turned Pro section of this website to view my rolling record of departures.
My Player Of The Quarter
Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) is my Quarter 4 2020 Player Of The Quarter.
Alex won The Golf Club of Georgia Amateur Invitational against a strong field in October and contributed to the International Team’s win at the Arnold Palmer Cup in December with two wins and a half from his four games.
His strong run of form in this final quarter means he is now very well placed to make the 2021 GB&I Walker cup team.
Alex Fitzpatrick with The GCoG Amateur Invitational Trophy (Photo: Wake Forest Men’s Golf )
Other 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 PGA Tour University Ranking List is updated weekly on a Thursday during the collegiate season.
Starting in 2021, 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: –
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.
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 SPWAR will not be updating this list for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The next SPWAR event ranking will be published for the 2021 calendar year.
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 system.
I have used these ‘power numbers’ to create three 2020 WAGR event rankings – GB&I, International and U.S. Collegiate. These lists are restricted to events that have featured GB&I players.
Due to COVID-19 arriving just ahead of our main playing season GB&I has struggled for top quality events this year.
Appendix 1 – Previous Golf Bible Player Of The Quarter Results
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 (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.
Appendix 4 – The 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.
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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