As he works his way back from a three-season slump, 11-time PGA Tour winner Jordan Spieth, who’s finished T3, T4, and T13 in his last three starts, won’t be teeing it up this week at the WGC-Workday Championship at the Concession.
Spieth, the former world No. 1 – who in three weeks moved from a career low of 92nd to 61st, did not qualify for the season’s first World Golf Championships due to a world ranking outside of the top 50.
Sounds cut and dry. Right?
There are 20 players in the field with rankings higher than Spieth. Yes, 20! That’s more than 25% of the field.
Admittedly, some of these low-ranked qualifiers snuck in by finishing in the top 30 of last season’s FedExCup standings or the Race to Dubai, which is fine (I guess). But several of these no names – with world rankings outside even the top 150 – qualified by virtue of placing high on the order of merit on some minor league pro golf tour.
The most ridiculous example is Trevor Simsby, the 416th ranked player in the world who qualified by finishing second on the Asian Tour’s order of merit.
Get this, though: Simsby secured that top spot by playing in a single Asian Tour event in 2020: the Bandar Malaysia Open. To make the qualification even more stupid, the tournament wasn’t even a regulation 72 holes. It was reduced to 54 holes due to rain. Simsby, a 27-year old vegabond, won his first professional title in a playoff – at a tournament with a strength of field rating of 16 (for comparison, this week’s WGC is 777).
And it gets sillier. Following that 54-hole Malaysian tournament, the Asian Tour’s 2020 season ended due to covid. And so, by default – as one of only two Asian Tour winners on the shortened season, Simsby locked in a top-2 spot in the order of merit. And with it, punched a ticket into the World Golf Championships.
Even crazier – after his lone start in early March 2020, the American has not teed it up anywhere else in the world for all of 2020 and 2021.
His Official World Golf Rankings file reads a single line for the years of 2020 and 2021: Bandar Malaysia Open, ASA, 10, 2020, 1, 14.00
So, a guy ranked 416th in the world, who has played just 54 holes of golf in the past 14 months, who was never good enough to earn a single start on the PGA Tour, who in a combined 16 career starts on the Korn Ferry Tour missed 13 cuts… you get the gist… This guy gets a spot ahead of three-time major winner Jordan Spieth?
I get that the 416th Simbsy is a stretch. I take it the WGC event wants to recognize excellence in other tours around the world. Unfortunately Covid happened and it didn’t work well this year. However are you going to change the rules to accommodate a PGA Tour player that has had a 2 to 3 good events lately? I don’t think so.
Re Spieth… Yea he is on comeback but has played terribly over the last 18 months and doesn’t deserve a spot.
Actually, I wrote “Admittedly, some of these low-ranked qualifiers snuck in by finishing in the top 30 of last season’s FedExCup standings or the Race to Dubai, which is fine (I guess).”
I was acknowledging that those players were somewhat deserving. In fact, a vast majority of the players in last season’s top 20 (Dubai) or top 30 (FedEx) did not need to use that exemption as they were already ranked inside the world top 50 this season.
My beef with using the fedexcup standings as a barometer has always been twofold:
1. Points are static, not dynamic like the OWGR’s algorithm. For instance, a player could earn 800 points for two hot weeks in early September 2020 (say a win at the Safeway and runner-up at the Sanderson Farms). This would essentially lock him into the top 30 for the entire 2021 season, while punching his ticket to the Playoffs, Tour Championship and next season’s WGC – as those points are not weight adjusted. Those 800 points will still be 800 points 11 months down the road, in August 2021, after a season where he could potentially miss 15 or so cuts.
Yes, those points were earned and the player should be rewarded with a trip to the playoffs – and all that comes with it (i.e. East Lake cash). But it’s a poor way to field the “world’s best players” in a WGC event that takes place the NEXT SEASON.
2. Further, FedExCup points in no way reflect of a field’s strength: A Sanderson Farms win (500 pts) is valued at 91% of a World Golf Championship title (550) and 85% of a Masters victory (600 pts)? And as mentioned, they are never even weight adjusted as times goes by. That is a lousy way to reflect one’s performance, particularly recent form.
Yes. We mentioned Matt Wallace, among others, as impressive “alternates.”
In fact the idea for my post was based on the writer’s closing sentence: “If those are the players who did not make the field, what does that tell you about the ones who did?”
.. Which naturally got me looking at the field more closely.
Sure, I could have used Wallace (or Si Woo Kim), but let’s be real. Jordan Spieth is one of biggest names in all of sports, and coupled with his recent good form (which was THE STORY in golf for the past three weeks) is a much more persuasive example.
Although it may not have come across that way – as it was more of a quick-hit rant – my point was more to drive home the absurdity of the WGC’s qualifying rules, and less about poor Jordan Spieth – as I’ve been a constant critic.
IMO, the spots should only be available to the top 72 players in the world ranking for the 2-3 weeks leading into each WGC event. Period.
Spare me your virtue.