There’s lot of kvetching each year when golf fans realize the winner of the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth gets more world-ranking points for the title in England than a typically better — or at least comparable — field on the PGA Tour.
In 2018, the BMW PGA Championship winner gets 64 first-place points despite a Strength of Field ranking of 283. Meanwhile, the Ft. Worth Invitational winner at Colonial will get 56 first-place points despite a Strength of Field ranking of 412.
The BMW PGA Championship field has 14 of the world top 50, while Colonial has 19 of the top world top 50.
Why does this happen each year?
This is because the BMW PGA Championship is considered by the Official World Golf Ranking as the European Tour’s flagship event. Each major tour in the Official World Golf Ranking designates a specific event on their schedule — one not co-sanctioned by other tours — as their most important non-major event. Because of its prestige, then, that tournament gives out a minimum number of points regardless of the players in the field and its overall field strength.
On the European Tour, the BMW PGA Championship is the flagship event, and it gives out 64 first-place world-ranking points no matter what.
On the PGA Tour, The Players Championship is the flagship event, and it gives out a minimum of 80 first-place world-ranking points.
The other four major tours in the Official World Golf Ranking have flagship events, too. (For what it’s worth, the four majors give 100 first-place points to the winner regardless of their strength of field.)
All of these tournaments can offer more than their minimum if their Strength of Field rating exceeds the level required to offer their minimum points.
|TOUR||EVENT||MIN 1st||IMPLIED SOF|
|PGA Tour||Players Championship||80||906|
|European Tour||BMW PGA Championship||64||526|
|Japan Golf Tour||Japan Open||32||151|
|Sunhine Tour||South African Open||32||151|
|Austrasian PGA Tour||Australian Open||32||151|
|Asian Tour||Indonesia Masters||20||66|
|Challenge Tour||Grand Final||17||51|
The idea of the flagship event basically allows a tour to confer most-favored status on a particular event. Just sometimes the contrast doesn’t look that great.