European Golfers Will See Rankings Fall Through No Fault of Their Own
GOLF’s world rankings were suspended on March 15 when the sport locked down. But with the action back under way in the USA that has now all changed. However, those men who ply their trade on the European Tour are going to suffer because they have no events to play in.
It means that the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, who was ranked 10th in the world when the Charles Schwab Challenge began at Colonial, is going to see his ranking plummet through no fault of his own. Xander Schauffele’s third-place finish at Fort Worth means he has already fallen to 11th. He has a young family and, faced with the choice of staying at home with them or spending time in quarantine in the United States he chose to remain in the UK. And he is not alone.
The likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello have full PGA Tour status and also have homes in the US so they will be unaffected as they continue to play.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of players have expressed their unhappiness at the situation, with Holland’s Joost Luiten among the most outspoken. And it has to be said that they have a point.
World rankings are more than just a number. The top 50 on the world gain automatic entry to the sport’s four majors. They also get into the WGC events. And they are richly rewarded by their sponsors.
This is going to affect a significant number of players, including the likes of Tyrrell Hatton, Eddie Pepperell, Matt Wallace, Luiten, Thomas Pieters, Bernd Wiesberger, Lee Westwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Victor Perez.
Fitzpatrick, Wallace and Perez played at Colonial, but the others have opted to remain in Europe. It goes without saying that PGA Tour events traditionally attract stronger fields but this is a different situation altogether. And we are not just talking about players on the European Tour seeing their rankings fall through no fault of their own - the same will apply all over the world.
With the European Tour not returning to action until July 22, and the Asian Tour and Sunshine Tour not resuming until much later in the year, Luiten has questioned the decision which leaves players without a PGA Tour card at a huge disadvantage.
The Dutchman, a six-time European Tour winner, wrote on Twitter: “Bit unfair, when the rest of the WORLD is not playing at all!! Called world ranking for a reason right!?” Luiten is currently 98th in the world rankings, which are likely to be used to determine eligibility for the rearranged US Open after event organisers announced that no qualifiers would be held ahead of September’s tournament at Winged Foot. If he doesn’t perform well when the European Tour resumes then he will miss out. And that cannot be right.
The significance of this will not have been missed by Keith Pelley, the forward-thinking chief executive of the European Tour, and it is to be hoped that he will press for extra weighting for points gained when his tour resumes next month. But don’t hold your breath for the PGA Tour agreeing.
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