Mark McCormack's world golf rankings

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The McCormack rankings were unofficial world golf rankings published in Mark McCormack's World of Professional Golf Annual from 1968 to 1985, and were a forerunner of the current Official World Golf Ranking. Unlike their replacement they were not used to select fields for tournaments, and served no real purpose other than as a talking point.

The rankings were the first that had been compiled that took account of results from all the world's major professional tours, from the United States, Europe, Japan, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The system rewarded players for their finishing places in tournaments played over a three-year period, with more points awarded for more recent achievements, and more points awarded for major championships and tour events with strong fields than for those in other tournaments. They also reflected McCormack's philosophy that victory should be strongly rewarded, wherever in the world it took place – winners of tournaments received additional bonus points, and only high finishers in tournaments received any recognition - for example just the top ten places received ranking points in major championships.

The first player to lead the rankings was McCormack's client Jack Nicklaus (although Nicklaus left his business arrangement with McCormack in 1970),[1] and he continued to lead them for almost all of the 1970s decade. He would be succeeded as number one in 1978 by Tom Watson, who in turn was succeeded in 1983 by Seve Ballesteros. Had McCormack's rankings of the time been based on results over just the most recent two years, like their modern counterpart, Gary Player would have been number one in 1969 instead of Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd number one at the end of 1982 instead of Tom Watson (despite the latter's two major victories that summer) and Bernhard Langer would have been number one at the end of 1985 instead of Ballesteros. All the other year-end number ones, however, would have remained as they were on the three-year system.[2]

The first ranking list, taking account of results from January 1966 to December 1968, included five American players in the top ten (Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Julius Boros and Frank Beard) and five non-Americans (Gary Player, Bob Charles, Neil Coles, Peter Thomson and Kel Nagle). By 1976, the ranking list was almost totally dominated by American players – Nicklaus, Hale Irwin and Johnny Miller were the world's top three – and only two of the top ten (Gary Player and Graham Marsh) were non-Americans. The last ranking lists, published in the mid-1980s, reflected the shift in dominance back away from American golfers by that time – in 1984, five of the top ten were non-American, and in the last list published in December 1985, the top three players in the world – Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and Greg Norman – were all non-American.

In the years the rankings were published, the highest position attained by a British player was sixth – by Tony Jacklin in 1972, and Nick Faldo in 1984. The rankings were notable for the high positions reached by the leading Japanese players of the day, with Masashi Ozaki, Isao Aoki and Tsuneyuki Nakajima all achieving top-ten rankings at various times.

In 1986 McCormack's system was taken up by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and became the Sony Rankings. At first the Sony Rankings were only used by the R&A to exempt players from qualifying for The Open Championship (in particular to allow invititations to be sent to the leading American players, some of whom were reluctant to travel to have to pre-qualify), but in 1995 they were endorsed by all of the principal men's professional tours (five at that time) and renamed the Official World Golf Ranking. Over the years the Official rankings have come to be used to select players for an increasing number of important tournaments, including the major championships, the World Golf Championships and the European Ryder Cup side.

Ranking leaders[edit]

Year No. 1 No. 2 No. 3 No. 4 No. 5 No. 6 No. 7 No. 8 No. 9 No. 10
1968 United States Jack Nicklaus United States Arnold Palmer United States Billy Casper South Africa Gary Player New Zealand Bob Charles United States Julius Boros England Neil Coles Australia Peter Thomson United States Frank Beard Australia Kel Nagle
1969 United States Jack Nicklaus South Africa Gary Player United States Billy Casper United States Arnold Palmer New Zealand Bob Charles United States Frank Beard United States George Archer United States Lee Trevino United States Miller Barber United States Dan Sikes
1970 United States Jack Nicklaus South Africa Gary Player United States Billy Casper United States Lee Trevino New Zealand Bob Charles Australia Bruce Devlin England Neil Coles England Tony Jacklin United States Frank Beard Wales Brian Huggett and Kel Nagle Australia (tied)
1971 United States Jack Nicklaus United States Lee Trevino South Africa Gary Player United States Arnold Palmer United States Billy Casper United States Miller Barber Australia Bruce Crampton New Zealand Bob Charles Australia Bruce Devlin United States Tom Weiskopf
1972 United States Jack Nicklaus South Africa Gary Player United States Lee Trevino Australia Bruce Crampton United States Arnold Palmer England Tony Jacklin United States Tom Weiskopf England Peter Oosterhuis United States Jerry Heard Australia Bruce Devlin
1973 United States Jack Nicklaus United States Tom Weiskopf United States Lee Trevino South Africa Gary Player Australia Bruce Crampton United States Johnny Miller England Peter Oosterhuis United States Lanny Wadkins United States Jerry Heard United States Gay Brewer
1974 United States Jack Nicklaus United States Johnny Miller South Africa Gary Player United States Tom Weiskopf United States Lee Trevino Japan Masashi Ozaki Australia Bruce Crampton United States Hale Irwin United States Hubert Green United States Jerry Heard
1975 United States Jack Nicklaus United States Johnny Miller United States Tom Weiskopf United States Hale Irwin South Africa Gary Player United States Hubert Green United States Lee Trevino United States Billy Casper Australia Bruce Crampton United States Tom Watson
1976 United States Jack Nicklaus United States Hale Irwin United States Johnny Miller South Africa Gary Player United States Hubert Green United States Tom Watson United States Tom Weiskopf Australia Graham Marsh United States Ben Crenshaw United States Al Geiberger
1977 United States Jack Nicklaus United States Tom Watson United States Hubert Green United States Hale Irwin United States Ben Crenshaw Australia Graham Marsh South Africa Gary Player United States Tom Weiskopf United States Raymond Floyd Spain Seve Ballesteros
1978 United States Tom Watson United States Jack Nicklaus United States Hale Irwin United States Hubert Green South Africa Gary Player United States Ben Crenshaw Australia Graham Marsh Spain Seve Ballesteros United States Lee Trevino Japan Isao Aoki
1979 United States Tom Watson United States Jack Nicklaus United States Hale Irwin United States Lee Trevino South Africa Gary Player Japan Isao Aoki United States Hubert Green United States Ben Crenshaw Spain Seve Ballesteros United States Lanny Wadkins
1980 United States Tom Watson United States Lee Trevino Japan Isao Aoki United States Ben Crenshaw United States Jack Nicklaus United States Jerry Pate Spain Seve Ballesteros United States Andy Bean United States Hale Irwin South Africa Gary Player
1981 United States Tom Watson United States Bill Rogers Japan Isao Aoki United States Jerry Pate United States Lee Trevino Spain Seve Ballesteros Australia David Graham United States Ben Crenshaw United States Raymond Floyd United States Bruce Lietzke
1982 United States Tom Watson United States Raymond Floyd Spain Seve Ballesteros United States Tom Kite United States Craig Stadler United States Jerry Pate United States Jack Nicklaus United States Bill Rogers Japan Isao Aoki United States Curtis Strange
1983 Spain Seve Ballesteros United States Tom Watson United States Raymond Floyd Australia Greg Norman United States Tom Kite United States Jack Nicklaus Japan Tsuneyuki Nakajima United States Craig Stadler Japan Isao Aoki United States Lanny Wadkins
1984 Spain Seve Ballesteros United States Tom Watson Australia Greg Norman United States Lanny Wadkins Germany Bernhard Langer England Nick Faldo Japan Tsuneyuki Nakajima United States Craig Stadler United States Tom Kite United States Calvin Peete
1985 Spain Seve Ballesteros Germany Bernhard Langer Australia Greg Norman United States Tom Watson Japan Tsuneyuki Nakajima United States Lanny Wadkins United States Mark O'Meara United States Curtis Strange United States Corey Pavin United States Hal Sutton

Ranking summary[edit]

Player Country 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th Top-10
Jack Nicklaus  United States 10 2 1 1 1 15
Tom Watson  United States 5 3 1 1 1 11
Seve Ballesteros  Spain 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 9
Gary Player  South Africa 3 2 3 3 1 1 13
Lee Trevino  United States 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 11
Johnny Miller  United States 2 1 1 4
Hale Irwin  United States 1 2 2 1 1 7
Tom Weiskopf  United States 1 1 1 2 1 1 7
Raymond Floyd  United States 1 1 2 4
Arnold Palmer  United States 1 2 1 4
Bernhard Langer  West Germany 1 1 2
Bill Rogers  United States 1 1 2
Billy Casper  United States 3 1 1 5
Greg Norman  Australia 2 1 3
Isao Aoki  Japan 2 1 2 1 6
Hubert Green  United States 1 1 1 1 1 1 6
Ben Crenshaw  United States 1 1 1 2 1 6
Bruce Crampton  Australia 1 1 2 1 5
Tom Kite  United States 1 1 1 3
Jerry Pate  United States 1 2 3
Lanny Wadkins  United States 1 1 1 2 5
Bob Charles  New Zealand 3 1 4
Tsuneyuki Nakajima  Japan 1 2 3
Craig Stadler  United States 1 2 3
Graham Marsh  Australia 1 1 1 3
Tony Jacklin  England 1 1 2
Frank Beard  United States 1 2 3
Bruce Devlin  Australia 1 1 1 3
Miller Barber  United States 1 1 2
Julius Boros  United States 1 1
Nick Faldo  England 1 1
Masashi Ozaki  Japan 1 1
Neil Coles  England 2 2
Peter Oosterhuis  England 1 1 2
George Archer  United States 1 1
David Graham  Australia 1 1
Mark O'Meara  United States 1 1
Curtis Strange  United States 1 1 2
Andy Bean  United States 1 1
Peter Thomson  Australia 1 1
Jerry Heard  United States 2 1 3
Corey Pavin  United States 1 1
Kel Nagle  Australia 2 2
Gay Brewer  United States 1 1
Al Geiberger  United States 1 1
Brian Huggett  Wales 1 1
Bruce Lietzke  United States 1 1
Calvin Peete  United States 1 1
Dan Sikes  United States 1 1
Hal Sutton  United States 1 1

Single-year points leaders[edit]

For the years that the rankings were compiled, the following golfers earned most points during each single calendar year:

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ O'Connor, Ian (2008). Arnie and Jack: Palmer, Nicklaus, and Golf's Greatest Rivalry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-618-75446-5.
  2. ^ (tables published in) The World of Professional Golf, Mark H. McCormack (published annually 1967 to 1986)
  3. ^ When the McCormack ranking system was adapted to become the Sony rankings, Tom Watson emerged as the single-year points leader in 1984 under that system's points structure.