Golf Top 10 Rankings Through History (Interactive Graphic)

It’s now over 34 years since the first Official Golf Ranking (OWGR) list was published in April 1986. 107 players have entered the top 10 in this time, some managing to stay on the list for over ten years while one (Thomas Bjørn) appeared for a single week. 

With another decade gone, we thought it would be a good time to visualise this ranking list through the years. See our interactive graphic below for the top 10 list from 1986 until the end of 2019. Best viewed on desktop but if using mobile, best view is in landscape/horizontal mode. 

Follow us on Twitter @Golfible for more insights.

📋 Keep in mind: This graph was created in 2019 so it doesn’t include rankings from 2020 onwards.

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Some Interesting Stats

Attention, of course, will be drawn to the reign of Tiger Woods. He has been in the top 10 for 898 weeks from April 1997 until the end of 2019. 683 of those weeks were spent at number 1.  

Surprisingly, his long time rival, Phil Mickleson has never reached the number 1 spot, occupying number 2 for 270 weeks. One stat that Phil can claim dominance over Tiger, however, is his weeks in the Top 100 as highlighted by OWGR authority, Nosferatu on Twitter.  

23 men have occupied the coveted number 1 spot, the shortest tenure being Tom Lehman’s who held the position for one week in April 1997. 

The youngest player to make the top 10 list was Sergio Garcia at 20 years and 7 days in 2000.

The oldest golfer to grace the list was Masashi Ozaki in 1998 at 51 years and 92 days. 

Hal Sutton holds the record for longest gap between appearances in the Top 10, dropping off the list in June 1987 and reemerging over 12 years later in September 1999 where he would reach a career-high 4th position in April 2000.

Data Aggregation

The OWGR archives allowed us to collate the top 10 standings for every week since the first ranking list was published prior to the 1986 Masters Tournament. 

Each ranking week is stored as a PDF file in OWGR’s website with multiple pages per file in the earlier years. As a result, over 3500 PDF pages of data had to be converted to excel and organized into one dataset. 

Average points only started on Week 12 Apr 1989. Total points were used for the period 1986-02 Apr 1989. To follow the data structure, we divided the totals by 100 to fit into regular scale. 

10-15 weeks are missing as PDF files from the OWGR website.

📋 Keep in mind: We have made a big effort to weed out any errors but with the dataset size, mistakes can happen. Please do contact us if you spot any through our contact page

You can check out another interactive graphic, this time mapping out the universities attended by each major winner here.

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Lawrence Smelser has been part of the Golfible writing staff since 2019 and is a freelance golf journalist. Smelser has covered the PGA Tour including the U.S. Masters with He holds a journalism Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M and a Master’s journalism degree from the University of North Texas. Learn more about our team at Golfible on our About Us page.

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