The Official World Golf Ranking is a system for rating the performance level of male professional golfers. It was started in 1986.
The rankings are based on a player's position in individual tournaments (i.e. not pairs or team events) over a "rolling" two year period. New rankings are produced each week. During 2018, nearly 400 tournaments on 20 tours were covered by the ranking system. All players competing in these tournaments are included in the rankings. In 2019, 23 tours will factor into the world rankings.
As well as being of general interest, the rankings have an additional importance, in that they are used as one of the qualifying criteria for entry into a number of leading tournaments.
Tours included in the rankings
- PGA Tour
- European Tour
- Asian Tour (not a charter member of the Federation)
- PGA Tour of Australasia
- Japan Golf Tour
- Sunshine Tour
Points are also awarded for high finishes on other tours:
- Korn Ferry Tour, the official developmental tour for the PGA Tour
- Challenge Tour, the official developmental tour for the European Tour
- PGA Tour Canada, which became a full member of the Federation in 2009 under its former name of the Canadian Professional Golf Tour
- Korean Tour, from 2011
- PGA Tour Latinoamérica, from 2011 (Tour de las Américas in 2011 and early 2012)
- Asian Development Tour, the official developmental tour for the Asian Tour, from 2013
- PGA Tour China, from 2014
- Alps Tour, from July 2015
- Nordic Golf League, from July 2015
- PGA EuroPro Tour, from July 2015
- ProGolf Tour, from July 2015
- MENA Golf Tour, from April 2016
- Big Easy Tour, from 2018
- China Tour, from 2018
- All Thailand Golf Tour, from 2019
- Professional Golf Tour of India, from 2019
- Abema TV Tour, from 2019
Starting in 2012, some events received points that had not previously received any. These were the Sunshine Tour "Winter Series" and the PGA Tour of Australasia "State Based and Regional Tournaments".
The initiative for the creation of the Official World Golf Ranking came from the Championship Committee of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, which found in the 1980s that its system of issuing invitations to The Open Championship on a tour by tour basis was omitting an increasing number of top players because more of them were dividing their time between tours, and from preeminent sports agent Mark McCormack, who was the first chairman of the International Advisory Committee which oversees the rankings. The system used to calculate the rankings was developed from McCormack's World Golf Rankings, which were published in his World of Professional Golf Annual from 1968 to 1985, although these were purely unofficial and not used for any wider purpose (such as inviting players to major tournaments).
The first ranking list was published prior to the 1986 Masters Tournament. The top six ranked golfers were: Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros, Sandy Lyle, Tom Watson, Mark O'Meara and Greg Norman. Thus the top three were all European, but there were 31 Americans in the top 50 (compared with 17 at the end of 2010).
The method of calculation of the rankings has changed considerably over the years. Initially, the rankings were calculated over a three-year period, with the current year's points multiplied by four (three in 1986), the previous year's points by two and the third year's points by one. Rankings were based on the total points and points awarded were restricted to integer values. All tournaments recognised by the world's professional tours, and some leading invitational events, were graded into categories ranging from major championship (whose winners would receive 50 points) to "other tournaments" (whose winners would receive a minimum of 8). In all events, other finishers received points on a diminishing scale that began with runners-up receiving 60% of the winners' points, and the number of players in the field receiving points would be the same as the points awarded to the winner. In a major, for example, all players finishing 30th to 40th would receive 2 points, and all players finishing 50th or higher, 1 point.
Beginning in April 1989, the rankings were changed to be based on the average points per event played instead of simply total points earned, subject to a minimum divisor of 60 (20 events per year). This was in order to more accurately reflect the status of some (particularly older) players, who played in far fewer events than their younger contemporaries but demonstrated in major championships that their ranking was artificially low. Tom Watson, for example, finished in the top 15 of eight major championships between 1987 and 1989, yet had a "total points" ranking of just 40th; his ranking became a more realistic 20th when based on "average points". A new system for determining the "weight" of each tournament was also introduced, based on the strength of the tournament's field in terms of their pre-tournament world rankings. Major championships were guaranteed to remain at 50 points for the winners, and all other events could attain a maximum of 40 points for the winner if all of the world's top 100 were present. In practice most PGA Tour events awarded around 25 points to the winner, European Tour events around 18 and JPGA Tour events around 12.
In 1996, the three-year period was reduced to two years, with the current year now counting double and the minimum number of events reduced from 60 to 40. Points were extended to more of the field, beginning in 2000, and were no longer restricted to integer values. Beginning in September 2001, the tapering system was changed so that instead of the points for each result being doubled if they occurred in the most recent 12 months, one eighth of the initial "multiplied up" value was deducted every 13 weeks. This change effectively meant that players could now be more simply described as being awarded 100 points (not 50) for winning a major. Beginning in 2007, the system holds the points from each event at full value for 13 weeks and then reduces them in equal weekly increments over the remainder of the two-year period.
In 2010, a maximum number of tournaments was introduced as well as the minimum of 40. The maximum number was initially set to 60 from January 2010 and was reduced by 2 every six months until it reached 52 in January 2012. This means that since 2012 only the player's 52 most recent tournaments (within the two-year period) are used to calculate his ranking average.
At first only the Championship Committee of the Royal and Ancient used the rankings for official purposes, but the PGA Tour recognized them in 1990, and in 1997 all five of the then principal men's golf tours did so. The rankings, which had previously been called the Sony Rankings, were renamed the Official World Golf Rankings at that time. They are run from offices in Virginia Water in Surrey, England.
Calculation of the rankings
Simply put, a golfer's World Ranking is obtained by dividing their points total by the number of events they have played, which gives their average. Players are then ranked; a higher average yields a higher rank.
The first stage in the calculation is the ranking of each event. For most events the ranking depends on the current world rankings of the participating golfers and the participation of the leading golfers from the "home tour".
A "world rating value" is calculated. Any golfer currently ranked in the world top 200 is given a rating value. The world No. 1 is allocated 45, the No. 2 is allocated 37, the No. 3 is allocated 32, down to those ranked between 101 and 200 who are allocated a rating value of 1 each. The maximum possible world rating value is 925 but this would only happen if all the top 200 golfers were playing.
A "home tour rating value" is calculated. The leading 30 golfers from the previous year's "home tour" are given rating values. Most tours use earnings lists for their top 30, but the PGA Tour currently uses the FedEx points list calculated after the playoffs. Major championships and WGC events use the current world top 30 list. The home tour No. 1 is allocated 8 down to those from 16 to 30 who are allocated a rating value of 1 each. The maximum home tour rating value is 75 if all the top 30 players from the home tour are competing. The total home tour rating value is limited to 75% of the world rating value.
The world rating value and home tour rating value are added together to give a total rating value. This is then converted into an event ranking using a table. As examples, a total rating value of 10 converts to an event ranking of 8, a total rating value of 100 converts to an event ranking of 24, while a total rating value of 500 converts to an event ranking of 62.
Major championships have a fixed event ranking of 100 points. For each tour, there is a minimum ranking for each event. In addition, some tours have a "flagship event" that is guaranteed a higher ranking.
72-hole tournaments which are reduced to 54 holes retain full points, but if a tournament is reduced to 36 holes, its points allocation is reduced by 25%. 54-hole tournaments reduced to 36 holes retain full points.
The events with the highest "Total Rating" in 2018 are shown in the following table.
Rank refers to the player's world ranking before the event.
Having calculated the ranking of the event, the ranking points of the players for that event can be calculated. The winner's ranking points are the same as the ranking of the event, so that major winners get 100 ranking points. The second place golfer gets 60% of this amount, 40% for 3rd, 30% for 4th, 24% for 5th, down to 14% for 10th, 7% for 20th, 3.5% for 40th to 1.5% for 60th. Players tied for a position share the points for those positions so that if, for example, two players tie for second place they would each receive 50%, the average of 60% and 40%.
A player's ranking points for an event must be at least 1.2. Players who would get less than this using the above formula get no ranking points. For example, if an event has a ranking of 10 only the leading 12 players (and ties) receive any ranking points since the player in 12th place gets 12% of the event ranking (i.e. 1.2). The player in 13th position gets no points. Where there is a tie for the final scoring place, those players are guaranteed to receive at least 1.2 points. Using the above example, if there were two or more players tied for 12th place, each would receive 1.2 points. The only exceptions to this system are in the major championships where all players who make the cut get a minimum of 1.5 ranking points.
For the first 13 weeks after an event the player receives the full ranking points earned in that event. However, from then onwards they are reduced in equal weekly increments over the remainder of a two-year period. This gives priority to recent form. Each week the ranking points are reduced by a factor of 1/92 (approximately 1.09%) so that in week 14 only 98.91% of the ranking points are credited, continuing until week 104 when only 1.09% is credited. From week 105 the ranking points are completely lost.
The player's adjusted points for all events in the two-year period are then added together, and this total is divided by the number of events to give the average ranking. However, players are subject to both a minimum and maximum number of events over the two-year period. If a player competes in fewer than 40 tournaments over the two-year period his adjusted points total is divided by 40 and not the actual number of events he has played in. There is also a maximum of 52 tournaments, which means that only the player's 52 most recent tournaments (within the two-year period) are used.
The resulting averages for all players are put into descending order to produce the ranking table. This means that the player who has obtained most cumulative success does not necessarily come top of the rankings: it is average performance levels that are important, and some golfers play substantially more tournaments than others. New rankings are released every Monday.
Importance of the rankings
A professional golfer's ranking is of considerable significance to his career. Currently a ranking in the World Top 50 grants automatic entry to all the majors and World Golf Championships; see table below. In addition, rankings are the main criterion for selection for the International Team in the Presidents Cup, while ranking points are one of the qualification criteria for the European Ryder Cup team. The rankings are also used to help select the field for various other tournaments.
Note: The PGA Championship does not have an official automatic entry based on the Official World Golf Ranking. However, the PGA of America invites additional players, and traditionally has invited those in the top 100 for the last several years. It makes note of its strong field by referencing the number of top 100 ranked golfers entered in its press releases.
At the 2016 Summer Olympics, the top-15 world-ranked players will be eligible, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top-15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15. Within the 60 players participating, each of the five continents of the Olympic Movement will be guaranteed at least one player and the host nation will be guaranteed one player.
Timeline of the "number one" ranking
The first official ranking list was published prior to the Masters in April 1986, with Bernhard Langer the first world No. 1 ranked player, ahead of Seve Ballesteros, who had topped the unofficial McCormack's World Golf Rankings at the end of the previous year. Ballesteros briefly held the No. 1 spot after Langer, before Greg Norman's worldwide success over the rest of that season made him the first year-end No. 1. Ballesteros took the No. 1 position back from Norman in 1987, and the pair exchanged the No. 1 position several times over the next two years. During 1990, Nick Faldo remained ranked just behind Norman despite winning three majors in two years (and more world ranking points in total than his rival, albeit having entered more events). As detailed in Mark McCormack's "World of Professional Golf 1991" annual, it was also the case (but less immediately apparent) that Norman had won a total of 14 events during the ranking period to Faldo's 10, and when the two had competed in the same tournament, had finished ahead of his rival 19 times to 11, so Norman's No. 1 position (on the new "average points" system) had some justification. Faldo did inherit the No. 1 ranking for the first time early in 1991.
In April 1991, a quirk in the way the rankings treated results from previous years meant that Ian Woosnam, who had never won a major, took the No. 1 spot from Faldo on the eve of the latter's attempt to win the Masters for a third year in succession; as if justifying the ranking system, Woosnam—and not Faldo—won the tournament. Twelve months later, Fred Couples similarly took over the No. 1 ranking shortly before the 1992 Masters, then also went on to make that tournament his first major victory. Faldo's Open victory in 1992 lifted him back to the No. 1 position, and he held that spot until replaced by Nick Price, who in 1994 became the first African ranked No. 1 after his back-to-back major victories that summer.
By 1996, Greg Norman had regained the top spot and ended 1996 and 1997 narrowly ahead of first Tom Lehman, and then Tiger Woods and Ernie Els in the rankings, despite his rivals enjoying major victories in those years while he won none. Lehman, Els and Woods would all briefly become No. 1 during 1997, Lehman for a week – to date, the only player to hold the No. 1 ranking for just one week. In 1996, Colin Montgomerie also led the rankings in total points earned over the two-year period (but never on average points per event); in 1997 Els was top of a similar "total points" list. Those were the last occasions on which a player led on "total" points but not average points until 2016, when Dustin Johnson similarly had more points in total than the world number one Jason Day. Woods then finished 1998 narrowly ahead of Mark O'Meara even though the latter won two major titles that year while Woods won just once on the PGA Tour. In March 1999, David Duval became world No. 1 after winning The Players Championship, his sixth victory in a twelve-month period that came before his first major victory (which would follow two years later at the Open Championship).
In 2000, Tiger Woods had an unprecedented season of success that saw him earn 948 world ranking points in a single calendar year, so many points that even had his 1999 points (which represented the previous single-season record) been totally discounted from the calculation, Woods would still have had a points average easily high enough to lead the rankings – and Woods would still have led at the end of 2001 even had he earned no further points that year. Tiger Woods dominated the No. 1 spot for the following five years, but when Vijay Singh won the PGA Championship in 2004 and with it took the No. 1 ranking, that change highlighted the fact that Woods had not won a major for over two years, and also the extraordinary success Singh had recently on tour had that had allowed him to overtake the American. Woods responded by winning the very next major, the 2005 Masters, and with it regained the No. 1 spot, which he would then retain for a further five years. Following knee surgery in the summer of 2008, Woods missed the entire second half of the year, while Pádraig Harrington won two major championships, to add to the Open Championship he won in 2007. Despite earning no further ranking points during his absence, Woods remained No. 1 on the ranking system in December 2008.
During 2010, there was much debate as to whether Woods' continued retention of the No. 1 ranking (which he held up until the end of October) was justified given his relatively poor form—Woods finished fourth in two major championships in 2010, but failed to finish in the top ten of any other events he entered. During the 2010 season, several of his rivals for the No. 1 spot - including Masters champion Phil Mickelson (who had won four majors since 2004 but had yet to reach No. 1 in the rankings), Lee Westwood (who had yet to win a major but had finished second in both the Masters and Open Championships in 2010), and then Martin Kaymer (who had won the PGA Championship among four worldwide wins)— each missed opportunities to win particular events that would have taken them above Woods, before Westwood finally became world No. 1 on October 31.
During 2011, the possession of the No. 1 ranking would be the subject of much discussion among European golf commentators as it passed from Westwood to Kaymer, back to Westwood and then in May to Luke Donald, who took No. 1 spot by defeating Westwood in a playoff for the BMW PGA Championship. Donald, in becoming the fifteenth world No. 1, also became the first ever to reach No. 1 before having won or finished runner-up in a major championship in his career. Donald's position at the top of the rankings was justified by his consistency through the rest of the 2011 season – becoming the first golfer ever to win the money title on both the European and PGA Tours in the same season.
In March 2012, Donald lost the No. 1 position to Rory McIlroy; the pair then exchanged the No. 1 position a further four times in the following two months, so the volatility of the No. 1 ranking again became a source of comment. At the end of 2012, McIlroy had opened up a clear lead at the top of the rankings, following his second major victory at the PGA Championship and emulating Donald in leading the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic. However, by the end of March 2013, a resurgent Tiger Woods had returned to the top of the rankings, after adding three PGA Tour wins in 2013 to his three victories from 2012 while McIlroy struggled with his form following equipment changes. Woods then suffered a back injury that sidelined him for the early part of 2014, and in his absence, Adam Scott, winner of the 2013 Masters, became the 17th world No. 1 on May 18, despite not winning an event in 2014 to that date; he would win the following week to secure his No. 1 position and avoid following Tom Lehman as a one-week No. 1. He held the No. 1 position until August 3, when McIlroy regained the top spot by following his Open Championship victory with another at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Following his second-place finish at the 2015 PGA Championship (that followed earlier wins at the Masters and the U.S. Open), Jordan Spieth became the 18th world No. 1 on August 16, 2015, describing it as "as good a consolation prize as I've ever had". Over the following three weeks, the No. 1 spot passed back and forth between McIlroy and Spieth, due to the way each player's average points (which were almost identical) fluctuated (as their point weightings and events played divisors changed), until, on September 20, both were overtaken by Jason Day, the 2015 PGA Championship winner, who became the 19th world No. 1 with victory in the BMW Championship, his fifth of the season. A week later, Spieth regained the No. 1 spot from Day after winning the Tour Championship (and with it, the FedEx Cup), and concluded 2015 as world No. 1, but Day's continued good form took him back to number one after winning the WGC Matchplay in March 2016.
On February 19, 2017, Dustin Johnson became the 20th player to reach number one in the rankings following his victory at the Genesis Open. He would remain number one for over a year before being overtaken in May 2018 by Justin Thomas, who had won the PGA championship and four other events in 2017. Johnson regained top spot but was overtaken again in September 2018 by Justin Rose, who had finished second at the Open and again in two FedEx Cup playoff events. Rose became the 22nd player to reach number one, and the fourth Englishman. Johnson regained the number one position from Rose but was replaced by a new number one for a third time in 2018 on October 21, when Brooks Koepka added victory in the CJ Cup to his two 2018 major titles. Koepka remained number one on the ranking at the end of 2018, even though Rose had amassed a higher total of ranking points (from more events entered). Dustin Johnson regained the number one position early in 2019 with victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship, but Koepka returned to number one when he retained his PGA Championship title in May 2019.
- 1986 Greg Norman
- 1987 Greg Norman (2)
- 1988 Seve Ballesteros
- 1989 Greg Norman (3)
- 1990 Greg Norman (4)
- 1991 Ian Woosnam
- 1992 Nick Faldo
- 1993 Nick Faldo (2)
- 1994 Nick Price
- 1995 Greg Norman (5)
- 1996 Greg Norman (6)
- 1997 Greg Norman (7)
- 1998 Tiger Woods
- 1999 Tiger Woods (2)
- 2000 Tiger Woods (3)
- 2001 Tiger Woods (4)
- 2002 Tiger Woods (5)
- 2003 Tiger Woods (6)
- 2004 Vijay Singh
- 2005 Tiger Woods (7)
- 2006 Tiger Woods (8)
- 2007 Tiger Woods (9)
- 2008 Tiger Woods (10)
- 2009 Tiger Woods (11)
- 2010 Lee Westwood
- 2011 Luke Donald
- 2012 Rory McIlroy
- 2013 Tiger Woods (12)
- 2014 Rory McIlroy (2)
- 2015 Jordan Spieth
- 2016 Jason Day
- 2017 Dustin Johnson
- 2018 Brooks Koepka
Awarded to the player with the most weeks at No. 1 during calendar year and named after Mark McCormack, originator of the ranking.
- 1998 Tiger Woods
- 1999 Tiger Woods (2)
- 2000 Tiger Woods (3)
- 2001 Tiger Woods (4)
- 2002 Tiger Woods (5)
- 2003 Tiger Woods (6)
- 2004 Tiger Woods (7)
- 2005 Tiger Woods (8)
- 2006 Tiger Woods (9)
- 2007 Tiger Woods (10)
- 2008 Tiger Woods (11)
- 2009 Tiger Woods (12)
- 2010 Tiger Woods (13)
- 2011 Luke Donald
- 2012 Rory McIlroy
- 2013 Tiger Woods (14)
- 2014 Rory McIlroy (2)
- 2015 Rory McIlroy (3)
- 2016 Jason Day
- 2017 Dustin Johnson
- 2018 Dustin Johnson (2)
Although not recognized by any official award, these golfers have won the most World Ranking Points during the years for which the rankings have been calculated (points totals prior to 1996 are scaled to the current standard, i.e. major wins are worth 100 points):
A breakdown of the year-end top-100 by nationality.
Two men tied for 100th place. Note: The Presidents Cup was founded in 1994.
The table shows the World Rankings of the winners of each major championship in the week before their victory.
World Money List
From 1996 to 2012, the International Federation of PGA Tours sanctioned a World Money List   which was the total official money earned by a player on all member tours. It was computed in United States dollars. The yearly leaders are listed below.
- List of World Number One male golfers
- List of male golfers who have been in the world top 10
- Women's World Golf Rankings – for female professional golfers
- World Amateur Golf Ranking – for male and female amateur golfers