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Bias Continues in the World Golf Rankings

January 19th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Ryo Ishikawa and Charl Schwartzel know the secret to becoming one of the top 50 players in the world ahead of their time: play on a foreign circuit.

Events on the Japan Tour and some of the weak fielded European Tour events may award far fewer points than the big name events on the PGA Tour, but the points earned count just the same towards things like qualifying for the Masters, WGC events, and securing sponsor’s exemptions.

Schwartzel, the winner of last week’s Joburg Open, is exhibit A. He’s won the last two stops on the South African swing of the Euro Tour, picking up 20 and 22 points in the process. At the Joburg Open, I recall from a glance at the standings that only a couple of players well down in the WGR top 50 were even competing.

Now consider the case of Steve Stricker. At the Sony Open he finished third, earning 20 points, or two less than Schwartzel.  In the top 25 finishers with Stricker were WGR top 50 players Robert Allenby (#15 – who finished second), Retief Goosen (#17), Ernie Els (#18),  Zach Johnson (#22), Angel Cabrera (#23), Tim Clark (#39), and Brian Gay (#48). That’s considerably tougher competition that Stricker had to beat for fewer points!

Schwartzel’s two Ws have vaulted him from the 66th position two weeks ago into the 35th position in the WGR, ahead of quality players like Mike Weir (#37), Tim Clark (#39), Rory Sabbatini (#44), Ryan Moore (#47), and Gay. This would make him appear to be a star in the making. But on the PGA Tour last year (in regular, non facing events), here recorded a list of dismal finishes that included: Accenture (17t), Memorial (27t), U.S. Open (MC), British Open (MC), and the PGA (43t).

Now it’s possible Schwartzel’s game has come together. But I’d like to see him fatten his ranking on the PGA Tour or in the tougher European Tour events. Otherwise, this is just another case of the bias in the WGR that favors foreign players.

Now for Ishikawa. He is currently ranked 30th in the world based on the strength of his four wins on the Japan Tour last year, for which he earned an average of 17.75 points against players who would struggle to make the cut in Ameirca! On the PGA Tour last year, he was a disaster as these finishes demonstrate: Northern Trust (MC), Transitions (71), Arnold Palmer (MC), Masters (MC), British Open (MC), PGA(56t). Not what you’d expect from #30.

Has Ishikawa’s game picked up and does he really belong in the top 30, or is he still in need of further seasoning in the minor leagues? We’ll find out in a couple of weeks when he opens a stint on the PGA Tour with an appearance at the Northern Trust Open.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 rexfordbuzzsaw // Jan 20, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    You’re right there is HUGE bias for winning as opposed to finishing second by one shot, but in fairness to Schwartzel, winning over a weak field by 7 shots was probably more impressive than Stricker finishing third.

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