Jason Day and Rory McIlroy started 2017 ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the world. They’ll end it at 13th and 11th respectively after failing to win a single tournament between them.
Hands up if you predicted that!
Their slide is revealed in the list below which shows which players suffered the greatest Net Loss in Official World Ranking points when the final counting events were over. Day tops it, with injury-hit Danny Willett in second and Rory in third.
Willett’s injury-induced fall was spectacular as he nosedived from 11th at the start of the year to 114th.
Net Loss in Points (Week 1 to Week 50)
Jason Day -213.62297
Danny Willett -184.45986
Rory McIlroy -176.33046
Bubba Watson -157.47214
Adam Scott -148.6972
Henrik Stenson -137.93369
Russell Knox -125.0356
Jimmy Walker -110.06463
Scott Percy -98.63769
Emiliano Grillo -89.90459
How the ranking system works: Points are subject to respective finishing position in official tournaments which are awarded according to strength of field. World ranking points for each player are accumulated over a two year “rolling period” with the points awarded for each tournament maintained for a 13-week period to place additional emphasis on current form. Ranking points are then reduced in equal decrements for the remaining 91 weeks of the two year Ranking period. Each player is then ranked according to his average points per tournament, which is determined by dividing total number of points by the tournaments played over that two-year period. There is a minimum divisor of 40 in that time and a maximum of 52.
McIlroy has history of bouncing back
Obviously, to lose so many points, you have to have had a significant number in the first place. That’s why Day was hit so hard in 2017 as he lost all the gains he’d made in his spectacular performances in the second half of 2015 and had his 2016 successes diluted.
McIlroy’s slump isn’t his first and a look at an historical table of all-time leading points losses in a season offers evidence as to why he could come roaring back in 2018.
Rory appears in second place on that list after haemorrhaging 145.44833 points in 2013. It was a tough year for him as he struggled with an equipment change after switching to Nike. He looked set to suffer a complete blank in terms of winning but sealed victory in the Australian Open at the end of the year.
So how did he bounce back in 2014? In style. McIlroy flexed his muscles before losing a play-off for the Honda Classic, landed the European Tour’s flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May and then went mad over the summer, winning the Open Championship at Hoylake, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the 96th US PGA Championship in successive weeks to return to World No. 1.
The precedent is there for him.
As are the obvious signs that improvement is around the corner.
McIlroy was seriously hampered by a rib injury in 2017, switched putters constantly, signed a new equipment deal with TaylorMade and parted company with his long-term caddie.
Getting married led to a deeper contentment off the course and you sense that once he’s fit again, all the elements will slot back into place.
The 28-year-old has gone without a major for three years. To him, that is unacceptable. Watch out for the big comeback in 2018.
It could be a similar story for Day after his troubled year and anyone on that 10-man list has obvious bounce back potential.
Similarly, it’s also interesting to look at those who gained the most World Ranking Points in 2017; those with a sharp upwards trajectory, who could kick on further in 2018.
Net Gains in Points (Week 1 to Week 50)
Jon Rahm 282.84308
Justin Thomas 239.67083
Tommy Fleetwood 167.5822
Xander Schauffele 158.74332
Marc Leishman 155.449
Justin Rose 147.27796
Pat Perez 122.36869
Brian Harman 117.24614
Patrick Cantlay 106.40683
Charley Hoffman -99.85795
Could Leishman be the one to be win a major given that he’s gone close to landing one before?
Is Justin Rose ready to win a second major after his excellent end to 2017?
Will Rahm and Thomas continue to thrive?
It’s a year which promises so much, with a big McIlroy revival all set to be one of the leading storylines.