'It doesn't add up': Golf's big hypocrisy exposed

The farcical nature of golf's official world rankings – which hold significant weight for tournament and Olympics selection – has been exposed again this week.

Competitors at the Australian Open – a time-honoured event once referred to by Jack Nicklaus as the "fifth major" – were able to earn significantly less rankings points than those who finished in comparative positions at the Hero World Challenge.

The Australian Open was one of two four-day, full-field tournaments co-sanctioned by the DP World (formerly European) Tour over the weekend.

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Combined, it and the South Africa Open offered less than 27 OWGR points to the respective winners in total, while Scottie Scheffler banked 30 for winning the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

Golf's world rankings have been exposed as a farce.

The Hero World Challenge is an exclusive 20-player field, with no cut, and competitors are invited based largely on performances at majors over the past year, with some Tiger Woods discretion added.

This year's field included both Woods and world No.33 Will Zalatoris, neither of whom had hit a ball in competition since the Masters in April.

Woods hobbled around the course and shot even-par for the four rounds, finishing 18th in the field, but bizarrely gained 2.4 rankings points and jumped 430 spots on the OWGR.

Zalatoris finished dead last in the 20-man field, yet earned 2.1 points.

Cameron Smith pictured in action during the 2023 Australian Open

The players who finished tied for eighth at the Australian Open in Sydney – shooting 9-under across four days of gruelling competition to finish five shots off the lead – earned only 1.8 rankings points.

The winner – Chilean star Joaquin Niemann – earned 14.8 OWGR points for his epic playoff victory. He finished fifth at the Australian PGA Championship a week earlier – also a DP World Tour event.

He jumped from 87th to 59th in the rankings on Monday, but still hasn't climbed high enough to qualify for next year's Masters.

Cameron Smith – who shot 7-under and finished tied for 17th at the Australian Open – was leapfrogged in the OWGR by countryman Jason Day, who finished 11th of 20 at the Hero World Challenge.


That has significant ramifications for Paris 2024 selection, given Australia's two men's spots will be offered to the two players highest in the world rankings.

Currently that is Day and then Smith, but the latter continues to tumble down the list and looks certain to be overtaken by at least Min Woo Lee, and potentially Cam Davis and Adam Scott before the selection cut-off on June 17.

Smith – along with Niemann – is hamstrung because he competes on the Saudi-backed LIV tour, which the OWGR has so far refused to acknowledge as a bona fide league.

Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas are close friends.

The OWGR committee says the fact LIV has limited fields and no cut means it can't qualify for rankings points.

The hypocrisy in that decision is highlighted brightly by the Hero World Challenge, which features a significantly smaller field, also no cut, and doesn't have a traditional qualification process.

The Hero World Challenge isn't sanctioned by any of the professional tours and it's essentially a charity event hosted by Woods, and the field is selected with his discretion.


The standard argument from those in favour is the field is relatively strong, and generally features several of the top 20 according to the OWGR at the time. This year six of the world top-10 competed in the Bahamas.

Smith – who was world No.2 when he defected to LIV – is one of the world's best players but he and Niemann were never going to be invited to compete for the maximum 30 OWGR points given their alignment with the rebel Saudi league.

It means those two, and many others, have to fly all over the world and scrap away for any rankings points on offer in the hope of qualifying for the Olympics, and golf's majors.

Meanwhile the rich – in terms of rankings points, if nothing else – get richer.

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