The PGA Tour is beginning to hit its stride, with another stop on the California swing at this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
It’s still January, so there’s a lot of golf left to be played. Many of the sport’s biggest names are just beginning to find their games.
The first edition of the PGA Tour power rankings includes many familiar names — plus some noticeable omissions. These aren’t necessarily the 25 most talented players in the world, or the top horses for the course heading into Pebble Beach. They’re the best 25 players, in one person’s opinion, since the start of the 2021-22 PGA Tour season, which began in September.
That’s why you won’t find stars like Tony Finau (one top-25 finish in six starts with two missed cuts), Patrick Reed (one top-10 in eight stars while making his way back from double pneumonia), Harris English, Abraham Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen (hasn’t played since withdrawing from the RSM Classic in November).
1. Jon Rahm
The Spaniard couldn’t close out the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where he won his first major championship in the U.S. Open in June. The scariest part for the rest of the field is that he didn’t have his best game this past week and still finished in a tie for third. He leads the PGA Tour in shots gained: total (2.153) and shots gained: off the tee (.928).
2. Justin Thomas
Thomas has four top-25 finishes in as many starts, including a solo third at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba in November. His caddie switch to Jim “Bones” Mackay is paying big dividends; he seems more confident on the greens after some early struggles.
3. Collin Morikawa
The only player in history to win two different majors in his first two starts in those majors — he won the PGA Championship the first time he played it and The Open the first time he played it — Morikawa has made just three Tour starts since November, and finished in the top seven in each of them. He spent the past two weeks playing on the DP World Tour.
4. Patrick Cantlay
Cantlay, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, has made just two starts since November — a solo fourth at the Tournament of Champions and solo ninth at the American Express. With the way he’s striking his irons — he leads the Tour in greens hit in regulation — he’ll be among the favorites to win his first green jacket and Masters at Augusta National in April.
5. Hideki Matsuyama
The reigning Masters champion won in two of his past four starts, at the ZOZO Championship in his native Japan in October and the Sony Open in Hawaii a few weeks ago. He came back from five shots down and won the Sony Open in a sudden-death playoff with one of the best 3-wood shots you’ll ever see.
6. Viktor Hovland
The 24-year-old Norwegian is starting to prove he’s one of the most talented players in the world. He claimed his third victory in five events by making birdie from inside 3 feet to defeat Richard Bland on the first playoff hole at the Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club on Sunday. He also won the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba and the Hero World Challenge, an unofficial Tour event.
7. Rory McIlroy
Another late collapse prevented McIlroy from having a chance to win in Dubai on Sunday. Needing a birdie to win or a par to make a playoff, McIlroy hit his approach shot on the par-5 18th hole into the water, made bogey and finished third. Still, the Northern Irishman is playing solid golf; he won the CJ Cup at Summit in October, tied for sixth in Dubai and tied for 12th in Abu Dhabi.
8. Cameron Smith
The Australian won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month with a total of 34-under 258, the lowest score ever in a 72-hole event. He also won the 2020 Sony Open and is one of just six players in history to win both events in Hawaii.
9. Dustin Johnson
The former World No. 1 hasn’t played much golf lately and hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since winning his first green jacket at the 2020 Masters. He’ll try to defend his Saudi International title next week. His driving accuracy remains an issue.
10. Xander Schauffele
Schauffele hasn’t done much since helping the U.S. rout the Europeans in the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. His best finish in limited-field events was a 12th-place finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the beginning of 2022. He’ll be busy the next three weeks with starts at the Saudi International, Waste Management Phoenix Open and The Genesis Invitational.
11. Will Zalatoris
It’s not a question of if Zalatoris will win a PGA Tour event, but rather when the first will come and how many major championships he’ll win in his career. He’s already one of the game’s best ball-strikers. He added weight to his slight frame — he’s listed at 6-foot-2 and a generous 175 pounds — plus some swing speed during the offseason. His putting remains a problem, though. Zalatoris finished 64th in strokes gained: putting among the 79 players who made the cut at the Farmers.
12. Sam Burns
Before missing the cut at Torrey Pines, Burns had finished in the top 20 in each of his seven starts in 2021-22. His victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship in October moved him to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings for the first time in his career; he’s currently fifth.
13. Sungjae Im
The South Korean continues to play a lot of golf, with eight starts already this season. He won the Shriners Children’s Open in October and had three more top-10s since then, including a tie for sixth at the Farmers Insurance Open.
14. Scottie Scheffler
The Ryder Cup rookie hero is starting to heat up, with three straight top-25 finishes, including a tie for 20th at Torrey Pines. He’s still trying to dial in his driver; he ranks 110th in shots gained: off the tee and 113th in driving accuracy.
15. Daniel Berger
Berger hasn’t played much since the Ryder Cup. He has just two starts in official Tour events — a tie for fifth at the Tournament of Champions and tie for 20th in the Farmers Insurance Open. He has three straight top-10s at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, including a win last year. He will be among the favorites this week.
16. Marc Leishman
The Australian has played consistently well since the start of the 2021-22 season with five top-25 finishes in seven tour starts. He tied for third at the Shriners Children’s Open and QBE Shootout, an unofficial event.
17. Brooks Koepka
Even a radical hair-color change — he dyed his hair blond — couldn’t turn around the four-time major champion’s game.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 26, 2022
He missed the cut again at the Farmers Insurance Open, the third time he didn’t play on the weekend in his past five starts.
18. Billy Horschel
Horschel won the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play last season and then became only the second American — Arnold Palmer was the first in 1975 — to win the BMW PGA Championship, the biggest event on the European Tour. He had the first-round lead at Torrey Pines before finishing tied for 11th.
19. Bryson DeChambeau
You have to wonder if all the speed training and work toward competing in a long-drive competition is beginning to take its toll on DeChambeau’s body. He withdrew from the Sony Open with a left wrist injury and then missed the cut at Torrey Pines, after holding the same wrist throughout a forgettable back nine in the second round.
20. Jason Kokrak
Kokrak won the Houston Open in November, his third victory in 13 months, and had one of the better fall swings of anyone on tour. He has made only two starts this year, finishing 38th in the Tournament of Champions and tied for 17th in the Sony Open.
21. Talor Gooch
The former Oklahoma State star won his first tour event at the RSM Classic at Sea Island and followed it up with two more top-20s. Gooch isn’t exceptionally long off the tee, but is among the better ball-strikers, which is why he ranks sixth in scoring average at 69.8.
22. Luke List
After beating Zalatoris in a playoff at Torrey Pines, List, 37, became the oldest first-time winner on the PGA Tour since Ryan Armour won the 2017 Sanderson Farms Championship at 41 years old. Going into this past weekend, he had 22 career top-10s without a victory since the 2015-16 season, second-most among players without a win during that stretch.
23. Tyrrell Hatton
We haven’t seen much of the Englishman since he was a part of the Europeans’ flop at Whistling Straits. He tied for 18th at the CJ Cup and tied for ninth at the Hero World Challenge. Hatton has done pretty good work in Europe, tying for sixth in Abu Dhabi and tying for fourth in Dubai.
24. Kevin Kisner
This ain’t no hobby, as he says, for the former Georgia star. Since missing the cut at the RSM Classic, Kisner has posted three straight top-5 finishes — tied for fifth at the QBE Shootout, tied for eighth at the Tournament of Champions and tied for third at the Sony Open. He ranks sixth in greens in regulation and 17th in strokes gained: putting.
25. Jordan Spieth
Before missing the cut at Torrey Pines, Spieth had posted three consecutive top-25s, including a tie for 18th at the CJ Cup and tie for 21st at the Tournament of Champions. He made a remarkable comeback a year ago and needs to regain that momentum at Pebble Beach, where he won in 2017 and has four other top-10s.