Padraig Harrington fears a change in the official world golf rankings will be “disastrous” for Europe’s future stars as golf goes through the most turbulent period in living memory.
The Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series is a major threat to the status quo and the image of the sport, with Dubliner fearing future stars of Europe will be “hammered” and forced into a new formula to be implemented in the world rankings next month. compete elsewhere.
The problem first surfaced 11 months ago, when the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) announced a massive overhaul of the system starting on August 14.
The rankings had previously subsidized shorter tours such as the European Tour by awarding more points than qualifying on their field strength to avoid imbalance with the PGA Tour.
A field rating system has now been developed where tournament fields will be rated based on the skill level of each player in the field, rather than just field players from the OWGR’s current top 200.
As a result of the change in the formula, the World Ranking points allocated for next month’s events in the DP World Tour will be significantly reduced. For example, the 24 points claimed by Thorbjrn Olsen at May’s British Masters would be reduced to just nine points in a month’s time.
This is going to seriously affect the attractiveness of the events on the DP World Tour and make it nearly impossible for Europeans to make it to the top 50, or even the top 100, of the world by staying at home. This week, the top two in the world in Scotty Scheffler and Rory McIlroy at the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship, as well as 23 of the world’s top 50, give it a Strength of Field (SOF) rating of 461 and 58 points for the winner.
The DP World Tour’s BMW International Open features only three of the top 50 and has a SOF of 96 with a minimum allowable 24 points awarded to the winner.
Under the new system, the winner in Europe will get even fewer points as OWGR is eliminating minimum point values and replacing them with a skill-based system.
Each player will now receive a Strokes Gained (SG) World Rating based on their scores in stroke-play events over the past two years. A player’s SG World Rating will be determined by how many Performance Points he contributes to the field.
All of this is happening at a time when European ranks are split due to DP World Tour’s strategic alliance with the PGA Tour.
The advent of co-sanctioned events, such as the Genesis Scottish Open, which will see the field half filled by PGA Tour players and five Europe-based Scots likely to field.
Speaking ahead of his debut at the US Senior Open in Nebraska today, Harrington found the world ranking landscape appalling and laid out his brutal vision for the DP World Tour.
While he fears the “dialing back” of the equipment by governing bodies will affect the sport when it is finally implemented in the next few years, the loss of world ranking points in Europe scares him.
“The change to the world ranking system is going to affect the European Tour, it really is,” said Harrington at Omaha Country Club.
“Like a young player playing in Europe, there is no way to move forward with the new system. It’s going to be devastating for a young player.”
“He has to leave. There is no way a youngster can stay in the top 100 in the world or get into the majors like I would have.”
Harrington first broke into the world’s top 100 in 1996, but made her Masters debut three years before breaking into the top 50 and winning the European Tour-sanctioned Brazil So Paulo Open in 2000.
“My way was enough to establish myself in Europe; When I set out in Europe, I started dipping my toe in the water by coming to the big events in the States, Majors, Arnold Palmers, Memorial, The Players Championship.
“After playing all the way from 96 to 2004, I played enough shows in America that I was comfortable in that environment that I came and took my card. I don’t see that path anymore.”