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Tiger Woods becomes latest PGA Tour star to criticize Official World Golf Rankings: 'It's a flawed system'

CBS Sports logo CBS Sports 11/29/2022 Kyle Porter
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 06: Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot on the 18th hole during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 06, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia. © Provided by CBS Sports

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 06: Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot on the 18th hole during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 06, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia.

Jon Rahm has an ally, and a very important one at that. Rahm spoke out against the Official World Golf Rankings two weeks ago, and on Tuesday at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods agreed with his sentiments.

Rahm's argument, in its most basic form, was that the OWGR should not be rewarding the RSM Classic winner with 37 points and the DP World Tour Championship winner with just 22 points when the latter had to defeat seven top 25 players in the world and the former had to defeat none. The OWGR, on the other hand, has structured its points system to reward beating bigger fields rather than smaller ones (the DP World Tour Championship had just 50 players while the RSM had 156).

"OWGR, it's a flawed system," said Woods. "That's something we all here recognize. The field at Dubai got less points than Sea Island, and more of the top players were there in Dubai, so obviously there's a flawed system.

"How do you fix it? You know, those are meetings we're going to have to have. We're going to have to have it with World Golf committee and as well as ... the main tours that are involved in it. Somehow come up with a better system than is in place now."

The problem here is that the OWGR is likely always going to be a flawed system. It represents a zero-sum game (there can only be one No. 1 and one No. 2 and so on), which means that somebody is almost always going to be upset about how points are constituted.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy disagreed with Rahm (and now Woods) about the current system.

"So when you look at two different fields, you've got a 50-man field here versus a 144-man field there [actually 156]," he said. "So just in terms of how the strengths of field is calculated, they have 90 more players to contribute to their strength of field. So the reason that this has got 21 points [actually 22] and the RSM has got 39 [actually 37] is the person that wins the RSM has to beat 139 other guys [actually 155]. You only have to beat 49 other guys here. It's a much fairer system. I think it rewards people that -- it's pure numbers. Strength of field has not hurt people feelings.

"Has it upset people? Yes, because people have been used to getting a certain amount of [OWGR] points in one event and now it's dropped. But I would say those events were getting more than they should be. I think it's the fairest system that you can come up with right now. And a lot of work went into that, five years of algorithms and analysis and work went on into the system, so it's not as if it changed overnight. A lot has went into it. It's the best one that we can come up with right now, and I think it will take a while. It will take another 18 months for it to play out because everyone gets two years into the rolling system.

"It's a little bit -- as it's being rolled out, there's a little bit of discrepancy, but once we get two years into it and have the minimum divisor and all the events. I think you'll see a fairer reflection of where everyone is ranked in the world that is eligible."

Woods didn't call the OWGR laughable like Rahm did, but surely the members of the OWGR -- which include the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, Augusta National Golf Club, PGA of America, R&A, USGA and International Federation of PGA Tours -- will take into account Woods' words about a revamped system that was recently implemented in August.

"I remember in my career, when I had a big lead in my career, I didn't have to play a single tournament the next year and I still would be ranked No. 1," said Woods. "We changed that system then. So it has been changed in the past, and I'm sure this will be changed hopefully soon."

All of this is extraordinarily nuanced, of course, and as Data Golf pointed out, the OWGR actually rewards the lower half of smaller fields more than it does the lower half of bigger fields. 

There are also very few instances of small fields with great players on the top tours. It's a problem that I'm not positive is big enough to deserve a solution. Regardless, this will be discussed into the future, especially given the demand from LIV -- which also has small fields with some good players -- for OWGR points in the near future.

Woods spent a record 683 weeks atop the Official World Golf Rankings. Greg Norman is second with 331.

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