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Golf's outdated world ranking system on verge of major overhaul

The men’s golf world ranking is on the verge of a significant overhaul amid recognition that the system, introduced in 1986, is no longer compatible with expanded levels of the professional game.

A meeting this month of the seven-person rankings board – which includes representation from all four majors – will seek to confirm changes that will be implemented this year.

Those behind the alterations believe the new composition of the rankings will be a more accurate reflection of global professional tours. World rankings are crucial as used for entry into high-profile tournaments, such as this week’s Masters. New rankings are released every week.

The current rankings system divides a golfer’s points total by the number of events in which they have played over a two-year window. That average points basis is set to remain but will be about the only constant; there is acknowledgement from those behind the rankings that “strength of field” elements – relating to the minimum points available in any given event – may now be skewed. This could mean a rankings boost to, for example, those competing in standard European Tour competitions which for now have lowly points status.

Those with knowledge of the present system believe it was implemented at a time when the world’s top 50 were a more fundamental element than is the case now. Around 2,000 players have a world ranking, with 23 Tours feeding into the points system. Players from outside the world’s top 300 appeared at the 2016 Olympics, illustrating the significance of the system below those at the very summit of the game.

Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm will begin the 85th Masters as the top three ranked players in the world. Rory McIlroy has slipped one place to 12th. Jordan Spieth’s weekend win at the Texas Open moved him up to 38th; the 2015 Masters champion was as low as 92nd early in 2021.

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