How Do Golf Rankings Work?

The new legal sports betting environment has led to growing levels of interest across the board. If there’s a sporting event going on, you can bet on it being completely legal and safe. That’s a huge drawing card for fans, many of whom are spreading their wings even further into new realms. Golf is an area in which many have landed.

While golf’s four majorsOpen Championship, US Open, PGA Championship and Masters — have always been incredibly popular, we can now say the same about each PGA Tour stop. For golf betting purposes, a good part of the attraction has to do with all the ways you can bet, from outright winners to head-to-head matchups, and much more.

Those that are new to a sport often find themselves drawn to ways to quantify the participants, such as power rankings systems that are quite popular in football and basketball betting circles. Is there anything out there like that in the world of golf? There are several different options you can lean on, and we’re going to explore all of them in-depth right here.

How are rankings used for golf?

Rankings systems are quite popular for betting on many team-based sports. Some of them are as simple as a basic first to the last ranking of all teams, while others go much deeper than that by attempting to quantify each team into a single numeric rating, which can then be used for comparison and handicapping purposes.

In golf, the same concepts apply. On the simple level, think of the golf odds board for an upcoming tournament, or one of the four majors. There are favorites up top, longshots on the bottom, and everyone in between. If you take a step back, the board gives us a real-time ranking of all golfers that are scheduled to compete.

On the advanced side, some systems do their best to quantify the golfers in terms of overall performance. Not all systems are created equal, so the various formats will apply different weighting to characteristics it deems to be important. For example, one set of rankings may prioritize recent form, while another may skew more heavily on the statistical side.

Regardless of which form of rankings we are talking about, the ultimate goal remains the same: to make sense of the field for an upcoming event, and also to pick out those who could be in line to make some noise. Rankings can help you spot those who appear to be set for a solid weekend, and also help you make your picks on head-to-head and other wagers.

Top golf ranking systems explained

Golf rankings can take on many different forms, and there are plenty of choices to consider. If you like to keep it simple, some rankings can help you do so. For those who like things more on the advanced side, you’ll find something too, as will those somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

Said another way, there’s just not one default set of rankings that are considered the gold standard for golf. Instead, there are several different formats, but the good news is that many of them are very easily accessible online. Let’s take a look at the most popular systems and how you can use them to your advantage.

What are the Official World Golf Rankings?

This is one of the top rankings systems for golfers, and it can prove to be quite useful for handicapping upcoming tournaments and future events. The goal of the system is to rank the top players on a two-year rolling basis according to performance.

Known as the OWGR for short, the rankings include the top pros on the PGA Tour, as well as those that compete over in Europe and on other circuits. Players are ranked from top to bottom with each golfer assigned a numerical value.

Golfers earn points for performance. The OWGR lists out total points earned over the period, as well as average points earned. There’s also tracking for total events played over the period, as well as points gained or lost and changes in the rankings. Here is a look at the World Golf Rankings top five players at one point in 2015:

RankGolferAvg. Pts.Tot. Pts.EventsLast Year Rank
1Dustin Johnson12.8328526.15411
2Jon Rahm9.3162447.18482
3Justin Thomas8.8124414.18473
4Xander Schauffele7.6684352.75468
5Tyrell Hatton6.9332325.864710

When approaching an event, you can compare the betting odds for the players in the field to their ranking. There will be times when a player is under or overpriced about their overall performance, and it can also give off some valuable insight as you try to determine the best prospect in the group and head-to-head matchups.

What are the FedEx Cup standings?

As golfers compete in events, they rack up points based on how they fare. The points are for the chase for the FedEx Cup, which was instituted in 2007 to crown a true season-long champion. Each PGA Tour stop is eligible, but some naturally carry more weight than others.

At the end of what’s considered the regular season, the top 125 in the standings get to compete in the playoffs. It’s held over three rounds and whittled down after each one. For the final event, it’s just 30 of the top pros competing for the crown. Here’s a quick peek at the last five winners of golf’s FedEx Cup.

  • 2020 – Dustin Johnson
  • 2019 – Rory McIlroy
  • 2018 – Justin Rose
  • 2017 – Justin Thomas
  • 2016 – Rory McIlroy

You can track the points standings all season long, and add it to your overall handicapping arsenal. Just like with the OWGR, you can cross-reference the standings with the odds for upcoming events. While oddsmakers are very good at what they do, it’s not uncommon to find a golfer or two that looks quite mispriced on the FedEx golf rankings.

What is the PGA Tour money list rankings?

At each PGA Tour stop, golfers are awarded prizes based on how well they do. The winner will make out nicely, followed by the top finishers who do quite well, and so on down the line. There are several sites out there with sortable golf stats to be found, ranging from industry giants like ESPN to sport-specific spots like PGATour.com.

The leaderboard is tallied up all season long. Once again, you can easily scan through and compare the rankings to current odds. For deeper insight, you can do some figuring on the average amount earned per tournament. This can help you find players most likely to make the cut and those who could pay off with finisher bets such as Top 20.

As with the OWGR and FedEx, the top pros will be found in the mix at the top of the charts, but you don’t have to stop there. It’s tough to win a PGA event — even for the best players in the world — so digging deeper into the list of potential contenders can be very worthwhile. Here’s a look at a snapshot of the Top 5 on the money board.

  • 1- Dustin Johnson, $3,272,540
  • 2- Xander Schauffele, $3,216,676
  • 3- Harris English, $2,773,592
  • 4- Patrick Cantlay, $2,744,385
  • 5- Bryson DeChambeau, $2,702,183

What are golf power rankings?

Power rankings are quite popular in gambling circles for other sports. At the advanced level, a good system can help you quickly get to the bottom of what a fair spread looks like for two teams. That number can then be compared to what oddsmakers have to say as you hunt for opportunities.

So is there anything like that for golf? There is, but as with power rankings in other sports, you should only be considering it as a projection as opposed to a crystal ball that will lead you to instant winners. For example, Golfweek publishes the rankings of Jeff Sagarin. He’s considered one of the top power rankings gurus out there for many sports, and his findings are free to use.

The rankings go in ascending order with the golfer projected for the lowest score at the top. When comparing two golfers in the field, you can compare the ranking for an estimated stroke differential. This ranking set can be a solid research tool as you break down an upcoming event. According to the current rankings, here’s where things stand for the Top 5.

  • 1- Xander Schauffele, 67.51
  • 2- Dustin Johnson, 67.56
  • 3- Jon Rahm, 67.81
  • 4- Rory McIlroy, 68.10
  • 5- Bryson DeChambeau, 68.10

What are PGA stat leader rankings?

Just like in other sports, there is a myriad of golf stats out there to consider. You can sort through all of them, and there are often plenty of articles that break down the top stat plays for upcoming events. Also like other sports, the sheer amount of stats can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to let it be that way.

Some stats move the needle and others that just don’t mean that much. Unfortunately, it can get confusing for those new to the game. It’s not hard to find an advocate for all stats, so figuring out which ones make a difference is tough. In the interest of saving you time, here are a few of the standouts.

  • Cuts made: Simply tells you how many times the player cuts. By comparing it to events entered, you can walk away with a ballpark percentage chance for that golfer to advance when they enter a tournament.
  • Greens in regulation: This stat tells you how often a golfer makes it to the green with a chance to putt for an eagle or birdie. Naturally, those who hit the most of those in a tourney will be in line to make noise, so it bears tracking.
  • Accuracy: There are several different stats here, including tee shots, approaches, and putting. They can help spot golfers who may be on an up or downswing in current play, as athletes run hot and cold here, just like in other sports.

This is just a trio of the options to consider. If you value strong driving, you can check out the distance stats, while up and down stats tell you how well a golfer recovers after missing on an approach shot. As with the other rankings we’ve outlined, stats aren’t the magic answer for golf betting, but they can be a valuable part of your overall handicapping approach.

Using golf betting odds to your advantage

For each golf tournament, oddsmakers will post lines for projected winners and high finishers, as well as for head-to-head and group matchups and various prop wagers. The odds are an insight into how the sports betting business perceives the event at hand. By extension, think of the odds board as a free research tool that you can lean on.

The average PGA Tour stop will have over 100 golfers in the field. It can be a Herculean task to sort through intel on each one of them, but the odds board can help you lessen the time. If you break it down into three tiers, you can sort through the field in no time.

  • Favorites: The Top 10 or so in the field that looks poised to be in contention
  • Mid-range: Players who look in line to at least cut and potentially be a high finisher
  • Longshots: Dark horse plays who oddsmakers aren’t giving much of a chance

Once you have the list split up, sort through each category and make note of the most appealing options from each. You may wind up with several favorites and just a few from the other categories. From there, you have a shortlist of golfers to research extensively. Afterward, take the time to review previews from sources you trust.

This can help point out golfers you missed in your initial run-through of the tournament, and you can then research those players even further. While researching, you can compare the odds to the player’s standing in various rankings systems to spot potential advantages. Also, be sure to take the time to shop around and compare lines.

Since the odds will move in response to sports betting action, you may find more appealing prices at one shop over another. For example, DraftKings Sportsbook may have a better price on one pro, while William Hill is more appealing for another. If you don’t take the time to line shop at multiple books, you’ll miss it entirely.

A simple approach to golf rankings

OK, so you’re ready to start working golf rankings into your approach. Now what? Whenever a tournament is on tap, you can lean on the rankings as a guide to help you sort through the field. When starting, here’s a simple three-step approach you can use.

  1. Work through the odds board in tiers to walk away with a shortlist of targets to focus on.
  2. Compare your chosen golfers on three simple sets of rankings: OWGR, FedEx, and Money. Look for the ones on your list who have solid standing on all three.
  3. Research recent forms for all of your selections, as well as how they’ve performed in the past at the current event.

The practice also works in reverse: Current and recent form, compare to rankings and then sift through odds for each. It’s a simple and basic plan to cut through the field and help you get up to speed. Once you have the process down, you can dig even deeper with stats and either power rankings that you like and respect.

Are golf rankings useful for betting purposes?

Since the average field for golf tournaments is quite crowded, it can be challenging to make heads or tails of the field. Rankings can help you sort through the options efficiently, and also help point you towards choices that you may have missed otherwise. While there are no one default rankings that are the best of the best, there are several solid ones to consider.

By using a combination of the OWGR, FedEx, and money leaders, you can zero in on the most potentially appealing options of the week. From there, it’s a matter of comparing to what the oddsmakers say, as well as current and event form. Rankings can be a great resource to lean on. That said, they’re just a piece of the overall puzzle.

Golf rankings aren’t going to provide you with immediate answers and guaranteed results. However, when you use them correctly in your overall handicapping routine, they can help lead you to make much more informed decisions. If you can continue down that path, then success may not be too far off in the world of golf betting.

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