Opinion: Do the world rankings matter too much?
Rory McIlroy is back on top of the world rankings. McIlroy finds himself back in the top spot, supplanting Luke Donald after the latter tied for 37th place at Hilton Head over the weekend. McIlroy, who didn’t play this past week, spent two weeks in the top slot in March of this year before Donald took his place. I have two questions at this point.
First, how much does all this really matter? Secondly, are a lot of people in and around golf taking the world rankings way too seriously?
The rankings in use today date back 24 years now, to an era when Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman, and Nick Faldo were the dominant figures in the sport.
The women’s rankings made their debut in 2006.
In theory, the rankings serve as useful purpose, to compare the results of players playing in different events on the world’s various tours.
They are calculated based on a player’s performance over a two-year stretch, as well as the strength of each tournament field with an emphasis on the major championships.
So far, so good.
Since their inception however, there have been suggestions that the strengths of the various tours have not been weighted properly. Okay, that’s probably unavoidable, to some extent.
Our issue with the rankings, both men’s and women’s is they are given far too much credence when it comes to evaluating players or, in some instances, determining qualifiers for tournament fields.
Case in point, the recent Masters, to which the top 50 players in the rankings received invitations if they had not qualified otherwise. Ernie Els, who was certainly most deserving of a spot in the Masters field, missed the cutoff and wound up sitting at home.
The rankings released on Monday of this week list Tiger Woods at number eight, largely on the strength of his win at Bay Hill last month.
But can anyone honestly make the claim that Tiger Woods is the eighth best player in the world right now?
The rankings do help identify who the best players are in some instances; if not necessarily in the correct order. They also create a topic of discussion for golf enthusiasts.
But when it comes to tournament coverage, too much is being made of where a player stands in the rankings in comparison to his or her peers.
If a player is ranked 56th or 63rd it has no bearing on the 68 he or she shot on a particular day and likely will have no bearing on how they’ll play the next day.
Whether Ai Miyazato is ranked seventh in the world (as she was last week) or eighth (as she was at the start of this week) has little or no relevance to how she is playing at this moment, or how she may play in Hawaii this week.
Our advice to golf fans; accept the ratings for what they are, but when it comes to deciding who the best players are, go with your gut.
That method has worked since the first Open Championship was played in 1860 and our viewpoint is it still works more than two centuries later.Written by Rick Woelfel
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