Dave Tindall

Across the Pond

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World Rankings Analysis

Friday, December 21, 2018

The cast-list at the top of the world rankings can seem fairly static barring the odd rapid improver. But it’s surprising how quickly the top ten evolves.


Let’s look at the last three years.


In 2016, the final OWGR table of the year looked like this:



1 Jason Day

2 Rory McIlroy

3 Dustin Johnson

4 Henrik Stenson

5 Jordan Spieth

6 Hideki Matsuyama

7 Adam Scott

8 Patrick Reed

9 Alex Noren

10 Bubba Watson


A year later, just four names were still there – DJ, Spieth, Matsuyama and Stenson.



1 Dustin Johnson

2 Jordan Spieth

3 Justin Thomas

4 Jon Rahm

5 Hideki Matsuyama

6 Justin Rose

7 Rickie Fowler

8 Brooks Koepka

9 Henrik Stenson

10 Sergio Garcia


So about 2017 to the current rankings? This time, six remain. There are three new entries into the season-ending rankings, DeChambeau, Molinari and Finau, while McIlroy returns to the top ten.


1 Brooks Koepka

2 Justin Rose

3 Dustin Johnson

4 Justin Thomas

5 Bryson DeChambeau

6 Jon Rahm

7 Francesco Molinari

8 Rory McIlroy

9 Rickie Fowler

10 Tony Finau


The biggest jumps to get there were made by DeChambeau who was ranked 99th at the end of 2017 while Finau jumped from 40th despite not managing a win. Molinari? He was 21st this time last year before his three-win year which included victory at the Open Championship.


Equally, it’s worth giving this a ‘where are they now?’ angle. Who were the biggest fallers? Matsuyama dropped from 5th to 26th, Stenson from 9th to 25th, Spieth from 2nd to 16th and Garcia from 10th to 23rd.


For others, the big goal at the start of the year was crashing the top 50 and securing all the rewards that brings (entries in majors and WGCs).


No guesses for which player produced the most dramatic return to the top 50. Tiger Woods ended 2017 ranked 656th and with huge uncertainty over his future. Now, he’s a winner again and back to World No. 13.


Three other players leapt from outside the top 100 to a place inside the top 50. They were English duo Eddie Pepperell (133rd to 35th) and Matt Wallace (127th to 44th) along with Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard (188th to 45th).


All three can look forward to receiving a letter in the post from Augusta National.


Significant movers to just outside the top 50 were Aaron Wise (223rd to 51st), Luke List (138th to 56th) and Abraham Ancer (267th to 57th).


Oh, there was also a player who charged from 1057th to 97th. Expect Cameron Champ’s rapid rise to continue in 2019.


These are all interesting little facts but how do gamers/bettors use them?


Do we presume that those on the rise will continue to climb further? Or have such players hit something near their ceiling in which case their value has gone?


One angle worth exploring is which players made the biggest jumps in the second half of the season. Those golfers may have started a rise which still has a way to go.


To work that out, we need to wind back to the start of July to see what the rankings were at the end of Week 26.


The biggest movers at the top end of the game?


Tony Finau from 31st to 10th (21 places)

Bryson DeChambeau 22nd to 5th (17 places)

Xander Schauffele 24th to 11th (14 places


The top fallers from Week 26 to Week 52?


Jordan Spieth 6th to 16th (10 places)

Jason Day 9th to 14th (5 places)


Another conundrum to solve. Will the fallers benefit from a winter reboot or are there more underlying issues that point to a continued decline?


Finally, I’ll end with another handful of risers from Week 26 to Week 52:


Patrick Cantlay 29th to 18th

Keegan Bradley 77th to 30th

Gary Woodland 41st to 31st

Billy Horschel 92nd to 36th

Thorbjorn Olesen 66th to 43rd

Kevin Na 65th to 46th


(Thanks to Nosferatu on Twitter @VC606 for help with stats. Quite simply, he’s the man to follow for #OWGR news/facts/updates). 

Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.
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