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With professional golf on an indefinite hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the math behind the world rankings in both men’s and women’s golf has been put on pause.
Officials from the Official World Golf Ranking and the Rolex Rankings released a joint statement Friday announcing that both ranking systems would be frozen “until further notice” as tournaments around the world continue to be canceled or postponed.
“The governing boards of the OWGR and WWGR have decided that the rankings will be frozen at Week 11 (the week ending March 15th and March 16th, 2020) and will continue to monitor the impact of coronavirus COVID-19,” the statement read. “An announcement about the resumption of each respective ranking will be made in due course.”
The OWGR functions on a rolling two-year cycle, with point values for respective events gradually diminishing as time goes by. The freeze ensures that players won’t lose value for previously-accrued results without any new competitions with which to supplement their point totals.
The decision means that Rory McIlroy will remain world No. 1 during the current hiatus, followed by Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson. Jin Young Ko is No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, followed by Nelly Korda, Sung Hyun Park, Nasa Hataoka and Danielle Kang.
The PGA Tour, European Tour and LPGA have all postponed or canceled several tournaments in recent days and are expected to resume competition no earlier than mid-May.
The rankings freeze also has significant implications for the Tokyo Olympics, as the OWGR and Rolex Rankings were to be used to finalize the fields of 60 men and 60 women this summer. The International Golf Federation released a statement supporting the rankings freeze and indicated that the original June cutoffs are still in place – meaning that the Olympic standings are closer to being finalized than previously expected.
“The qualification system for the Tokyo Olympic Games commenced on July 1, 2018 and will conclude on June 22, 2020 for the men and from July 8, 2018 through June 29, 2020 for the women, with players accumulating world rankings points over a two-year ‘rolling’ period,” the IGF statement read. “This has proven to be a fair and equitable system and despite the freeze, we believe that the system remains fair to all athletes who are vying for qualification to the Tokyo Olympic Games.”