By Ryan Herrington
Will Zalatoris. Photo by Golffile
No one could have foreseen how the 2020 golf season would unfold when the PGA Tour and European Tour resumed play this summer, least of all Will Zalatoris. The 24-year-old former Wake Forest All-American was a member of the Korn Ferry Tour and was sitting at 483rd when the Official World Golf Ranking was frozen in March at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly nine months later, Zalatoris has special temporary membership on the PGA Tour after a series of impressive starts and is considered among the tour’s rising talents.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Zalatoris then and now is his place on the OWGR. Since officials resumed calculating the ranking in June, no player has risen from farther back in the standings to gain a spot in the top 100 than the Plano, Texas, native. He enters this week’s Mayakoba Classic, his last start of 2020, at 60th in the world, a leap of 423 spots since March.
Zalatoris might have made the biggest jump, but he wasn’t alone. We compared the World Ranking from the start of the pandemic (March 16) to today (Nov. 30) and discovered that 10 players who are now in the top 100 of the OWGR moved up at least 100 spots:
While Zalatoris moved the farthest among the group, Harris English (winner of the PGA Tour stop in Bermuda) jumped the highest, up to 33rd in the OWGR from 155th. Of this group, only Russell Henley, Zach Johnson and Mackenzie Hughes didn't win either a PGA Tour or European Tour event after the restart.
Two other notables on the PGA Tour moved up by large margins into the top 15 in the World Ranking since the restart: Daniel Berger (from 107th to 13th, a 96-spot swing) and Matthew Wolff (from 110th to 14th, a 94-spot move). Berger won at Colonial in the first PGA Tour event played when the season resumed; Wolff finished second at the U.S. Open, Rocket Mortgage and Shriners, and T-4 at the PGA Championship.
Of the players currently in the top 100, 50 moved up in the ranking since March, one stayed in the same place and 49 dropped (most notably, Tiger Woods from 11th to 36th, down 25 spots). The player who fell the farthest but still stayed in the top 100 was Francesco Molinari, who went from 28th to 95th. Below are the 26 players who made the biggest drops but remained inside the top 100.
Meanwhile, 26 players who were in the top 100 in March fell outside that number. J.B. Holmes has the distinction of dropping the farthest, going from 95th to 206th.