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Coronavirus Update: Why Golf Must Change Its World Ranking System

It’s seemingly one rule for one and one for another when it comes to golf’s world rankings.

The current system calculates a player’s score based on a period of two years. Quite rightly it was put on hold in the middle of March as the coronavirus pandemic brought the whole world to a standstill.

However, because tournaments have restarted in America – although the way things are going with the amount of players having to withdraw through positive tests to either themselves or their caddy this may change yet again – the ‘scoring system’ restarted three weeks ago.

The rest of the world is behind

But there’s a notable flaw to this plan. The European Tour is not rescheduled to get back under way until the end of July, with the Asian Tour and Sunshine Tour – in Southern Africa – having to wait until much later in the year to return to action.

That means if you are not playing in America, you are at a monumental disadvantage when it comes to trying to retain or win points to improve your ranking. Namely you cannot earn any.

Players could miss out

The problem is that your world ranking deems your eligibility to be offered places in Majors and the high-profile tournaments. How is that system fair on those not yet playing again competitively? If you secured a high finish in an event you cannot play this year – through no fault of your own – you will drop down the ladder and potentially miss out on lucrative pay-days. 

close up of golf ball on green

The US Open, for example, have indicated the rankings will determine the field with no qualifying events due to be held in advance. The world’s top 50 will also have places confirmed in the Masters the following week. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, America are clearly treating this pandemic less seriously than the rest of the world.

McIlroy lacks sympathy

Rory McIlroy said it is the players’ fault if they decided not to feature in events in America – which meant they would need to fly in, quarantine for a fortnight before playing. But not everyone is in the enviable situation of the Northern Irishman. And only a handful of players on the European Tour are eligible to play on the PGA Tour.

silouette of man playing golf

Should some players be punished in this way?

Why should they be punished for not being able to play competitive golf while other players prosper? The whole dynamic needs a rethink. And people like McIlroy should be most aware of the situation of others – it’s people lower down the chain that need the help at the moment.

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