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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Possible Future of Tours and Rankings

COVID-19 has interrupted all sports for now, but events will eventually begin again. The question is, how long will it be before golf resumes? And how will the delay affect world rankings?

Today I'm linking to some articles that address those very things.

Current World #1 Rory McIlroy

Here's a GC article by Will Gray looking at how this interruption will affect the Official World Golf Rankings (aka the OWGR). The article talks about how the Top10 of the OWGR might shape up in the April 13 version -- assuming nothing changes in the meantime. Rory McIlroy would still be #1 if the OWGR continues on its present course.

What might change? Gray says the powers-that-be are considering a freeze to the rankings. According to a golf.com article, "a spokesperson from the OWGR said simply, 'All these matters are under discussion.'"

Why is it important? One word: Olympics. Assuming the Olympics can go on as planned, the golf participants will be chosen based on the OWGR (and Rolex Rankings for the ladies). And you can bet that both organizations will be seriously considering their options because, as old events drop off the back end of the rankings without new events to take their place, the rankings could play havoc with the current expectations of the players.

While the rankings would also affect entries into the various majors and WGCs, you have to believe that the Olympics are first and foremost in the minds of the ranking organizations.

I also want to link to a GC article listing, as of Monday, the next expected events on each of the world tours. At this point most of the world's tours expect to get back in action sometime in April or May, but I found two notable exceptions:
  • PGA Tour of Australasia: NT PGA Championship, Palmerston Golf Course, Palmerston, Australia, Aug. 20-23
  • Japan LPGA: AXA Ladies Golf Tournament, UMK Country Club, Miyazaki, Japan, March 27-29
It's the JLPGA that surprises me most. Despite being right next door to China, where this virus first made itself known, they currently plan to play an event next week! I really have trouble believing that won't change soon, but it's interesting that it hasn't been changed already.

Given the 'fluid nature' of the COVID-19 pandemic, these seem to be the most volatile aspects of the golf landscape in the immediate future. And the world rankings strike me as the most critical of the two, as they could serious alter the fields of events when they finally begin again. After all, unlike the tournaments which will find their choices largely dictated by health concerns and travel restrictions, the rankings are simply calculations in a computer, unaffected by COVID-19.

Unless it finds a way to jump from humans to computers, that is.

2 comments:

  1. The JLPGA event you cited has been cancelled along with the Yamaha Ladies Open the following week (2-5 April). With the first 5 events now wiped off the 2020 season it breaks the record of 4 cancellations in a row that followed in the aftermath of the 2011 East Japan earthquake and tsunami.

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    1. Thanks for the update, IC. Hope you and your family are doing well.

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