The Daunting Task Asian Tour Players Face To Reach The World’s Top 50

Players would need a huge number of wins on the Tour to reach the landmark position in the world rankings

Tom Kim at the 2019 Sabah Masters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Since new criteria came into effect in August that placed more emphasis on Strokes Gained World Rating than strength of field to determine the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), there have been accusations that it is heavily skewed in towards the PGA Tour.

Now, there is more evidence to suggest that is the case with the revelation that reaching the world’s top 50 would be almost unachievable for Asian Tour players beginning from scratch. According to the popular Twitter account Nosferatu, which specialises in analysing OWGR data, such a player would need around 20 wins in two years across 40 Asian Tour events to have a chance of breaching the world’s top 50.

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That’s an important position to attain because for players who’ve yet to win a Major, eligibility to two of them can depend on being ranked at World No.50 or higher. For example, while there are various exemptions to the Masters, being among the world’s top 50 at the end of the year is one route to eligibility. Similarly, qualification to the Open Championship is also available to anyone in the clutch of players.

Another Twitter account, Data Golf, countered the original tweet slightly by pointing out that, due to the gulf in skill level between the average Asian Tour player and players in the world’s top 50, any player at that level on the Asian Tour would enjoy plenty of victories:

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Nevertheless, there is clearly still a high bar to reaching the OWGR top 50 for anyone plying their trade on the Asian Tour. Indeed, one of breakout players of recent months, Tom Kim, made his name on the Asian Tour before earning his PGA Tour card. However, despite making an almost immediate impact on the PGA Tour and rising to World No.15, only two Asian Tour wins preceded that ascent, accentuating how difficult a task it would be to reach the world's top 50 playing solely on the Tour. 

The revelation adds to the perception that PGA Tour players are the real beneficiaries of the new system. Recently, comparisons have been made between the smaller number of OWGR points on the DP World Tour compared to the PGA Tour, particularly with the season-closing DP World Championship. That tournament included seven of the world’s top 25, whereas the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic, played during the same week, contained just one player in the top 30. Despite that, the PGA Tour event offered the most OWGR points, a situation Jon Rahm described as “laughable.”

Aside from Asian Tour and DP World Tour players, those on other tours are also struggling to benefit from the new system. After finishing sixth in the recent Australian PGA Championship, PGA Tour of Australasia pro David Micheluzzi questioned why he received fewer OWGR points than the last time he played in the tournament, when he finished tied for ninth among a weaker field.

Tiger Woods has had his say on the OWGR issue, too, admitting the system is flawed. He also expressed his opinion that the system would soon be changed soon, saying: “I remember in my career when I – I had a big lead in my career, I didn’t have to play a single tournament the next year, and I still would be ranked No.1. We changed that system then. So it has been changed in the past and I’m sure this will be changed hopefully soon.”

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