Jon Rahm, the Best Golfer in the World Right Now, Is Exposing the Flawed OWGR
On the PGA Tour, the title of “best golfer in the world” gets passed from player to player every few months. Last summer, it was Scottie Scheffler. In the fall, it was Rory McIlroy. Three events into the 2023 schedule, the title unquestionably belongs to Jon Rahm.
Rahm won the American Express this past weekend to record his second victory in as many starts. In his last 10 starts worldwide, the Spaniard has won four times and finished worse than T8 only one time. Rahm is the best golfer on planet earth right now, and it’s not particularly close.
Yet, there are two players ahead of Rahm in the Official World Golf Ranking, and one of them hasn’t made a start on the PGA Tour in three months. If that doesn’t tell you how broken the OWGR is, I don’t know what will.
Jon Rahm is the best golfer in the world right now
It’s difficult to win one event on the PGA Tour, and it’s impossibly hard to win multiple tournaments in the span of a few weeks. Rahm, though, is making it look too easy.
The 28-year-old kicked off the 2023 PGA Tour schedule with a comeback win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. After taking a week off, he returned for the American Express and notched his second victory in a row. Over his last eight rounds of competitive golf, Rahm is a ridiculous 54 under par.
Dating back to last October, the former World No. 1 has won four of his last six worldwide starts. He won the DP World Tour Championship and the Acconia Open de España on the DP World Tour before rattling off two straight wins on the PGA Tour.
This season, Rahm ranks first on Tour in strokes gained off the tee and second in strokes gained from tee to green. Incredibly, he lost 1.08 true strokes putting (per Data Golf) at the American Express, and he still shot 27 under to win the event.
No one has better control of his golf ball than Rahm right now, and the winning might not stop for a while. This week, Rahm will tee it up in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where he’s won twice and has recorded six top-10 finishes in seven starts.
Jon Rahm is exposing the flawed OWGR
No one is playing better golf than Rahm right now, but he’s only risen to No. 3 in the OWGR despite winning four of his last six starts. That’s because the OWGR points system is severely flawed, and it’s in desperate need of a makeover.
When Rahm won the DP World Tour Championship, a tournament that featured World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and four of the top 11 players in the OWGR, he earned just 21 OWGR points. On the same weekend, Adam Svensson earned 39 points for winning the RSM Classic, an event where World No. 23 Brian Harman was the betting favorite to win.
The OWGR values the size of a field ahead of the actual strength of a field. It also uses two years worth of results to come up with a player’s current ranking. Because of those flaws, Rahm has only risen from No. 6 to No. 3 in the OWGR since winning four of his last six starts. Meanwhile, Scottie Scheffler, who hasn’t won since last year’s Masters Tournament, is still ranked ahead of Rahm at No. 2. McIlroy is still No. 1 despite being absent from the PGA Tour for three months.
Rahm will eventually take over the No. 1 spot in the OWGR if he keeps up this level of play, but the ranking system isn’t properly rewarding the hottest players in the world for their recent play.