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Monday, January 7, 2013

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: January 2013

I had planned to do this RGWR post in mid-December and skip January, but things got busier around here than I expected. And since it looks like we won't even have a Limerick Summary before Wednesday, you all get a January RGWR that covers every tournament through the end of December 2012.

Ironically, things haven't changed very much since the November rankings despite the huge time gap. In fact this RGWR looks almost identical to the November one.

So here are the RGWR criteria:
I focus on the last 12 months of play -- that's long enough to see some consistency but short enough to be current. Every player in the RGWR won at least once on either the PGA or European Tour. The OWGR rates consistency over the last 2 years, so I see no reason to rank that; my RGWR says if you're a top player, you've won somewhere recently. My priority list (based on quality of field) looks like this:
  1. majors, TPC (PGAT), BMW PGA (ET), and WGCs
  2. FedExCup playoffs and prestige events (like Bay Hill and Dubai), the latter often determined by the history and difficulty of the course
  3. other PGA and ET events
I put extra emphasis on recent form -- 2 wins separated by 6 months don't carry the weight of 2 wins back-to-back -- and I make some allowance if you're recovering from injury or serious sickness. Also, remember that I count Top5s as a separate category from wins; if you see a player has 3 Top5s, those are seconds through fifths only.

I assign points to tournaments this way:
  • Majors: 10 points
  • TPC & BMW PGA: 8 points (yes, I'm calling them equals!)
  • WGC: 7 points
  • Prestige events: 5 points
  • Regular wins: 3 points
  • Top 5 finishes: 2 points
  • Other wins: 1 point
I give full credit (not in point value, but they carry the same weight as "official" victories) for wins on the "minor" tours like the Nationwide and Australasian Tours provided the winner has a current win on the PGA or European Tour. These wins will count only as "regular" wins and not "prestige" wins, no matter how prestigious they may be for their tour, because they generally don't have the field strength of a regular PGA or ET event.

I don't count the Grand Slam of Golf as a win in my rankings. I've decided that 4 players isn't a large enough field to give it the weight of a win against a larger field. However, I do take a win there into consideration in my rankings, much as I do money title or scoring awards. Other limited-field events (up to maybe 24 players or so) are counted as wins if the player also has an official win on the "big tours" but they only get a single point. The OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup (the 2-man team event) counts in this category.

And because of a strange quirk on the ET site, I've decided I have to specifically state that a tournament win can only count once. Therefore, to avoid possible confusion, I'm just telling you that the RGWR says you can only win a tournament once at a time.

As usual, although the point totals (and even the number of wins) a player has affects my rankings, they don't override my personal opinions. It's my ranking system, after all:
  1. Rory McIlroy: 5 wins (1 major, 4 prestige, 3 awards), 7 Top5, 47 points. Rory added a POY award over in Europe as well as replacing a win on a minor tour (that is, not the PGA or ET) with the Dubai Championship, thus further solidifying his already solid spot at the top.
  2. Tiger Woods: 3 wins (3 prestige), 6 Top5, 27 points. Tiger dropped his 2011 win at the World Challenge but otherwise remained unchanged.
  3. Branden Grace: 4 wins (1 prestige), 1 Top5, 16 points. Although Branden has 4 wins, he doesn't move ahead of Tiger because Tiger has more prestige wins and Top5s.
  4. Ian Poulter: 2 wins (1 WGC), 6 Top5, 19 points. Poults is still playing well after his Ryder Cup showing... and yes, I rank him a little higher because of that.
  5. Luke Donald: 2 win (1 TPC, 1 prestige), 5 Top5, 23 points. Luke continues to post Top5s despite not winning recently.
  6. Louis Oosthuizen: 2 wins, 7 Top5, 20 points. Louis also continues to post Top5s. I look for 2013 to be a much better year for him.
  7. Peter Hanson: 2 wins (1 prestige), 5 Top5, 18 points. Peter posted two wins late in the year.
  8. Jason Dufner: 2 wins (1 prestige), 4 Top5, 16 points. Although it doesn't show up here because I only count wins on the other tours, Dufner played well around the world after the PGA season ended.
  9. Brandt Snedeker: 2 wins (1 prestige), 3 Top5, 1 award (FedExCup), 15 points. Like Dufner, Sneds played well around the world after the PGA season ended.
  10. Charl Schwartzel: 2 wins (1 other), 5 Top5, 14 points. Charl is my only new entry this month, taking Lee Westwood's place. Westwood had been #3 but one of his tournaments fell off the rankings and Mr. Red Hot here is playing better over the last 3 months. He had two double-digit victory margins, for Pete's sake!
Players to watch:
  • Charl Schwartzel is the obvious choice here. The only question is whether he can carry his momentum from December into the new year. I'm guessing he can.
  • And I like Tour rookie Patrick Reed to come out firing. With the 2013 season being so short, rookies will be under pressure... and Reed Monday-qualified about 6 times in 2012. I think he'll handle the pressure better than most.


  1. I like your system. You continue to provide the best coverage of the PGA Tour.

  2. Thanks, Tony. I think you guys do the best coverage for the LPGA over at Mostly Harmless as well. That's why I link to you guys so much.