After Jon Rahm won the DP World Tour Championship and Rory McIlroy collected a season-long haul, the latter – ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking at the time – took the microphone on the final event on the 18th green. Said the following about the DP World Tour season and pre.
“I want to say I’m up there as the best player in the world, but John (Rahm) is up there with me,” McIlroy said. He is such a great player. Europe is very lucky to have him and I look forward to playing with him in Rome next year.”
Much has been made of golf’s foremost ranking system in recent months. The OWGR has refused to rank LIV golfers in the short term, causing elite talents such as Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka to face downgrades in the most ubiquitous ranking system in the game. Even when ranking points have been earned, they are not at the rate or in the specific manner that some would like.
Rahm, incidentally, has been one of the most critical voices OWGR’s revamped system launched late last summer and exempts smaller fields even when they’re made up of elite players. Even after winning his first two starts of 2023 (and four of his last six), Rahm is still ranked No. 3 in the world.
By definition, all rankings are subjective. All inputs in a given ranking system are determined by those who believe they were the best inputs. There are a million things that could go into each ranking system, but only a few of them are actually used.
Take, for example, the rankings of Data Golf. It avoids winning for strokes achieved – the best measure we have of how good one player is compared to another – and it looks at the last 50 rounds rather than the last two years (like the OWGR). Rahm moved up to No. 1 in The Data Golf Rankings after his win on Sunday at The American Express. However, that may soon change, as Rahm will tee off at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open this weekend, while Rory McIlroy, the No. 2 player in the Data Golf Rankings, will play in Dubai.
Rick Gehman, Kyle Porter, Mark Immelman and Greg Ducharme recap Sunday’s action at American Express. Follow and listen to The First Cut On apple podcast And Spotify,
All of these systems have their purpose and place in the world of golf. However, I prefer my personal system, which is structured this way and doesn’t rely on numbers or dates. That’s the essence of the professional game, especially at the level that Raheem and Rory are playing at. Here it is: Your life is on the line, and you must draft the one golfer you think is going to win the most events in 2023. Any hesitation, would be a man.
In Rahm’s last 10 worldwide appearances, he has lost to fewer players per event (3.6) on average than he has won tournaments (4). In 2023, he has made 77 pars and 59 birdies or eagles. He is 54-under in eight PGA Tour rounds in January. He is trying to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2008 to start a calendar year without losing to a single golfer in his first three tournaments.
Even though Rahm has lost to 10 golfers in his last six starts, he believes — and, honestly, he does — that the best is still in front of him.
“In my mind I think I can be much better,” Rahm said. “I think that’s the mindset I have to have. Again, I try very hard to do what I do. I can find mistakes in every single round I’ve played. Very few times I would say I have played a flawless round.”
Amazingly, the numbers agree with this notion. Rahm’s current Data Golf Index is 2.57, which means that in his last 50 rounds, he is gaining over 2.5 strokes against the field. His best number till date came in September 2021 when he reached 2.7. If he continues at this rate, though, he’ll likely wipe out that figure.
However, whether he can maintain this momentum remains to be seen. If he does, we’re going to be in the season forever. If he doesn’t, there will be talk in the Big Boy tournament later this year that Rahm rose to the top too early.
Although this is for then. What is true now does not change. No matter what OWGR (3rd), Data Golf (1st), Golfweek/Sagran (2nd) or FedEx Cup (1st) say, there is no doubt who is the current king of the hill or the person who This moment is moving forward. The man wearing the pink and gray on Sunday has won nine of his first 134 PGA Tour events and looks like he’s going to win everything he sees for the future.