Is there room for an alternative to the World Ranking, the IMG-created measure used to determine who plays in the majors and many other events? Definitely, says Jeff Sagarin, whose college hoops and football rankings are featured in USA Today. This year the math whiz from Bloomington, Ind., has turned to golf, and his Sagarin Performance Index is published by Golf week magazine.
Among the differences in determining the rankings: Sagarin counts every stroke taken by 4,000 players (even when they miss a cut) on nine tours over a one-year period. The World Ranking assigns points for order of finish depending on the quality of the field—everybody making the cut in a major gets points—and rates 4,000 players on nine tours over a two-year period.
Sagarin admits that gathering scores from around the world has been "a nightmare," and that his formula is so complex that while his computer needs only a minute to spit out the basketball ranking, it takes an hour and a half to generate the Index. Both rankings have Tiger Woods on top—by a mile—but there are big differences down below. For example, Mark O'Meara is No. 13 on the World Ranking, but Sagarin has him 76th. Conversely, Chris Perry is 25th in the World but seventh on the Index.
NAME: Chris Perry
DISTINCTION: In 14 seasons through 1998, had one victory ('98 B.C. Open) and a high of 39th on the money list. No wins in '99, but had 14 top 10s in 31 starts, missed only one cut and earned $2.1 million (fifth on the money list).
MISPERCEPTION: "People think that because I endorse I Clear Eyes, I must stay out all I night and that I always look mad. Actually, I'm having fun. That's just the way my facial muscles are."
STYLE: Steady, solid and cautious. Always plays away from trouble. Ranked fifth in birdies and in greens hit in regulation, 11th in all-around driving and 15th in putting.
FAVORITE CLUB: "The putter, that's the savior. To me, a 40-footer is a birdie putt." His four-wood, which has a dollar sign sewn on the headcover, is second.
WEAKNESSES: Ranked 190th in sand saves in '99. Struggles with right-to-left shots.