This week officially saw that triumphant comeback.
Not only did Spieth and wife Annie welcome their first son, Sammy, on Wednesday, the former Texas Longhorns also reclaimed their spot at number one in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, knocking Jon Ram out of the lead.
Spieth started the calendar year well off the top, but won for the first time since the 2017 Open in April at the Valero Texas Open, then finished T-3 in the Masters a month later. Spieth added the Charles Schwab Challenge and Open Championship runner-up to his best season on the tour since 2017.
He still ranks 11th in the official golf rankings, but Spieth’s consistency over the past year – key to Sagarin’s formula – has propelled him above Ram.
How are the ratings of Sagarin determined?
Jeff Sagarin’s rating system is based on a mathematical equation that uses a player’s loss record against other players when they play in the same tournament on the same day, the strike difference between those players, and then ties all the players together based on their common opponents.
The following list is an explanation of each category that Sagarin uses to formulate his classifications.
- strength rating: This is not an average stroke. Ranking is calculated using player history, hit differential and connection to all other players in the database. The difference between the two ratings predicts the difference between two players in a typical round.
- Texture table: The average strength of each event a player played in, calculated using each player’s strength ratings in each field.
- rank order: The player table is arranged in order of difficulty among the entire database.
- records: A player’s tie-loss record, based on head-to-head competition, in each category. The winner on a field of 156 players has a record of 155-0-0, the runner-up for a position is 154-1-0 and so on.
The first thing we have to realize and know is that this is a head-to-head arrangement. This is calculated based on who defeats the player and who loses to him. There is no additional weight or credit awarded for winning or better finishes. And unlike OWGR, as a result of a head-to-head win and loss, a lost cut or finish near the bottom of the field will hurt a lot more in GW/Sags than in OWGR.
Golfweek/Sagarin ratings use a one-year window instead of two, and consistency is critical.
Speth had 19 consecutive cuts and 19 of the last 20 cuts in the last 52 weeks. Meanwhile, in Ram’s last 22 starts, he had 3 missed cuts and also dropped out of an event.
Spieth’s overall record in a win-loss tie is 1859-389-71 (good for a .816 cut) while John Ram’s at 1973-426-74 (.812).
Another important thing to know is that over time, the GW/Sagarin rankings generally have a player who lands first before that player’s OWGR ranks first. There have been 13 #1 on OWGR since GW/Sagarin began ranking in 2000 – nine of them went to #1 in the golf week first.
Here’s a look at the full list:
OWGR #1 EVER SINCE Golfweek/Sagarin debuted in 2000
(Note: Tiger Woods was already #1 in both when GW/Sags was introduced)
Vijay Singh *
• Lee Westwood *
• Martin Kaymer
• Luke Donald *
• Rory McIlroy
• Adam Scott *
• Jordan Spieth *
• Jason Day
• Dustin Johnson *
• Justin Thomas *
• Justin Rose *
• Brooks Koepka
• Jon Rahm *
• Jordan Spieth
– * Indicates that the player first went to first place in the Golfweek / Sagarin rating.