Dropping In Golf’s World Ranking

I debated about writing this article because it is so subjective that I was not sure I had a defined point of view. As I plunk away at the keyboard, I muse about if dropping in the world ranking is really a valuable subject or not. After some deliberation, I decided to give this topic a try and see where we end up. If you are wondering what sparked my sudden interest in golf’s world ranking (which I normally do not focus too much attention on), well I read that Phil Mickelson dropped to 101 and Rory McIlroy dropped to 11 in the world rankings. Neither of these players slide is surprising or is it?

Before delving into today’s topic, my personal standpoint is that the world golf rankings do not hold water. They might be fun to talk about, but do they really provide anything more than something to talk about?

First I will talk about Phil Mickelson. At 50 years old, his decline in the world ranking is not surprising. With the current field of young lions on the PGA Tour, winning becomes more challenging every weekend. He has not won since 2019, but his performance was starting to decline since as seen by increase of miss cuts over the past three years. It is challenging to determine what is causing his poorer play of late, but he is not finishing high or winning any PGA Tour events. Hence, he has slowly dropped out of the top 100. Interestingly, the Champions Tour Events are not included in the calculations. If it did, Bernhard Langer would be ranked higher than 722 in the world….right?

There almost seems to be an expectation that players over the age of 45 become irrelevant on the PGA Tour and world stage. Although their names (Mickelson, Woods, Langer) still have star power, their performances on the PGA Tour are less then stellar. They are respected for sure, but nobody really thinks they will compete week in and week out. And so the decline begins. The expectation is they will continue to contribute to sales and marketing, but playing golf almost becomes second to their new role.

Rory McIlroy is a different kettle of fish. At 31 years old, McIlroy is expected to compete during every event and win a few times each year. As the defending champion from 2019, The Players Championship might vault him back up the standings if he play very well or even win. McIlroy is expected to compete each week and as such, has fallen under a great deal of scrutiny for his play of late. It seems as if his drop out of the top 10 players in the world is a critical milestone, but personally I think it is just something the golfing world can write about. One of the top players not playing up to his potential. This is where my view of the world rankings change dramatically.

Can anyone really say that Rory McIlroy is not (on any given day) one of the top three golfers in the world. On any given day, any professional golfer has a chance to win. Some, like McIlroy, have proved to be top performers and as such can beat the best players in the world without breaking a sweat.

So, I circle back to my original view that the world rankings can be fun to talk about, but really offer no value other than maybe bragging rights. So, the fact that Mickelson and McIlroy have slid in the world ranking is not really that news worthy, but it opens the doors to discussion that might lead to something valuable to talk about.

12 thoughts on “Dropping In Golf’s World Ranking

  1. I pay very little attenion to the golf rankings. It means so little when it comes ro who wins each week. I “may” agree that there may be a best golfer in the world but it can change so quickly. I just enjoy each tournament and see who can stay near the top for 4 rounds. Case in point, does anyone really believe that Rory is not a top ten player. Regardless of past results, take the top 10 now plus him and play a tournament for 4 weeks in a row. He will not finsih 11 foe 4 weeks. It is an unimportant stat

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In my feeble mind, the rankings are a convoluted method of determining who plays in the Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup. They are similar to the NCAA football rankings and don’t reflect anything other than a probability that one might be better than the other.

    On any given Sunday, #246 can shoot a 54 and leave #1 in their dust. That’s why I watch!


  3. Jim,
    Totally agree on Rory who is definitely a top 10 world player. He’s just got Masters bug-a-boos in his head. Phil’s game has been slowly slipping for the last five years but he’s still quasi competitive. At least he didn’t drop off the table like an Ian Baker Finch. Most notable drops are Jordan Spieth (late resurgence) and Rickie Fowler, who probably won’t qualify for The Masters unless he wins between now and the start. That would break a 41 start streak for him in the majors.

    It’s all about winning.




    • Brian,

      It is all about winning for sure. Placing high in the standings is okay, but without a win on tour every year, you quickly become a non-issue. Spieth and Fowler are prime examples. One of the reasons these players can stick around and not play well is one payday and endorsements keep them in the game.

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

      • Brian,

        I find it interesting that many players like Fowler are considered Tier 2 in the professional ranks. They played well enough to be considered elite, but have slide down the scale as new, younger players rise to the top. As far as Spieth, well I hope his resurgence lasts, I like seeing him challenging each week. However, as we stated before, it is all about the wins. If you do not win regularly, you may find yourself at the back of the bus.

        Cheers Jim

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Well in some ways I guess an argument could be made that World rankings are skewed. They favor wins at some tournaments over others on purpose. So it can hide an upcoming talent for a time at least. And it can help someone like Tiger remain on top without having to play all year long.

    But it’s what we have. And it’s not a terrible system. All players accrue points under the same set of rules at least. But I’m not going to use it solely to make a betting decision unless I really like losing. 😎


    • Kevin,

      You make some valid points about being able to stay on top if you have racked up enough wins. However, senior players are left out of the running regardless of how well they play. But like you said, it is what we have at the moment.

      Cheers Jim


      • Senior players really aren’t left out of the running regardless of their play. Points are accrued by the win. All someone like Mickelson need do to rise to the top of the board is win a couple of of higher ranked tournaments. Barring that, they fall into the same category as a newcomer who wins some smaller tournaments, but stays low on the ranking because those tournament are simply ranked lower.


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