Scheffler, Rahm and McIlroy battle for the top spot in PGA Tour Power Rankings

Scheffler, Rahm and McIlroy battle for the top spot in PGA Tour Power Rankings

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy entered the year ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

You could certainly argue that over the past few weeks, Spain’s Jon Rahm was performing like the best player in the world.

On Sunday, Scottie Scheffler reminded everyone in the sport who was ranked No. 1 for much of last season, when he won four times, including his first major championship (at the Masters).

Scheffler, who entered the week ranked No. 2 in the world, will regain the top spot after becoming the seventh player to repeat as champion of the WM Phoenix Open, an event he claimed last year for his first PGA Tour victory.

Since Scheffler’s first victory at TPC Scottsdale a year ago, he has collected $17.6 million in official earnings, not including what he won at the Tour Championship at the end of last season.

“I think when guys are playing as well as Nick [Taylor] was today, it really did put a lot of pressure on me and I responded very well,” Scheffler said. “It almost kind of took my focus to the next level where I just did a really good job of managing my way around the golf course and making some really key shots down the stretch. Proud of how I fought around the golf course.”

Here are the latest PGA Tour Power Rankings heading into this week’s Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where you-know-who (Tiger Woods!) is making his 2023 debut:

1. Jon Rahm

Scheffler picked up his fifth victory over the past 365 days, but he hasn’t been as consistent as Rahm during the past few months. The Spaniard finished in third place in Phoenix, 5 shots back, but was in contention once again. It was his ninth consecutive top-10 finish worldwide; he was in the top five in seven of his past nine events. Rahm still has the lead in the FedEx Cup points race.

2. Scottie Scheffler

Scheffler is atop the OWGR for the second time in his career, after spending 30 weeks at No. 1 last season, following his victory at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play. He led the field in shots gained: approach this past weekend, the first time he has accomplished that since the 2022 U.S. Open at Brookline. He also led the Phoenix field in strokes gained: tee to green and scrambling.

3. Rory McIlroy

An opening-round 73 left him out of the mix in Phoenix, but he’s still playing as well as anyone in the world. He had three victories in his previous eight worldwide starts. He has three top-10s in his past four starts at Riviera, where he has never won.

4. Max Homa

The California native has already won twice in his home state this season, picking up victories at the Fortinet Championship in Napa and Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. He finished 10th in the Genesis Invitational last season, after claiming his second PGA Tour win in the event in 2021.

5. Tony Finau

Finau has (barely) cooled off from his sizzling stretch last season, in which he won in back-to-back starts and was ninth at the Tour Championship. He claimed the Houston Open in November and has four straight finishes of 16th or better since then, after finishing in a tie for 14th at Phoenix. He lost in a playoff to Homa and finished second in the 2021 Genesis Invitational.

6. Collin Morikawa

Morikawa showed a lot of backbone by finishing third at the Farmers Insurance Open, his first start after blowing a 6-shot lead in the final round of the Tournament of Champions. Morikawa missed the cut at the WM Phoenix Open, his first missed weekend since the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews in July. He’ll have a chance to get things right at Riviera, where he tied for second, 2 strokes behind Joaquin Niemann, last season.

7. Xander Schauffele

Schauffele’s ailing back hasn’t been much of a problem since he withdrew from the Tournament of Champions in his first start of 2023. He tied for third at the American Express and 13th at the Farmers Insurance Open, followed by a tie for 10th at the Phoenix Open.

8. Keegan Bradley

Bradley’s renewed commitment to fitness and conditioning has paid off in a big way. After winning for the first time in four years at the Zozo Championship in October, he has piled up three other top-25s at the CJ Cup at South Carolina, Farmers Insurance Open (runner-up) and Phoenix Open. Bradley, 36, is third in FedEx Cup points.

9. Justin Thomas

Thomas, the reigning PGA Championship winner, still seemed to be dialing things in heading into Phoenix. After tying for 25th in back-to-back starts at the Tournament of Champions and Farmers Insurance Open, he was much better in Phoenix, finishing solo fourth at 13 under. He had been too inconsistent off the tee and his putting hadn’t been great, either. It started to come together at TPC Scottsdale.

10. Patrick Cantlay

Cantlay, who is ranked No. 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking, hasn’t yet his stride this season. Since tying for second at the Shriners Children’s Open in early October, he tied for 16th at the Tournament of Champions, tied for 26th at the American Express and missed the cut in Phoenix, where he lost in a playoff to Scheffler last season. Cantlay ranks 127th on tour in shots gained: approach (-.117).

11. Viktor Hovland

Hovland won the Hero World Challenge, an unofficial event that Woods hosted in the Bahamas in December, but he hasn’t done anything spectacular in official tournaments so far in 2023. His best finish in three starts this year was a tie for 13th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Hovland was one of the best iron players on tour last season; he was first in approach shots from 200 to 225 yards, second from 125 to 150, and third from 175 to 200. He was 120th in shots gained: approach going into the WM Phoenix Open.

12. Tom Kim

A year ago, Kim was preparing for the Royal’s Cup in Thailand on the Asian Tour. Now, he has already won twice on the PGA Tour and is one of the more popular players. Since winning the Shriners Children’s Open in October, he tied for fifth at the Tournament of Champions and for sixth at the American Express. He ranks in the top 15 on tour in strokes gained: total, tee to green and approach.

13. Matt Fitzpatrick

Much of Fitzpatrick’s best work over the past few months has come in Europe, where he was second in the Italian Open and tied for fifth at the DP World Tour championship. The reigning U.S. Open winner has only four PGA Tour starts this season; his best finish was a tie for seventh at the Tournament of Champions.

14. Jordan Spieth

Spieth bounced back from disappointing back-to-back starts-he missed the cut at the Sony Open and tied for 63rd at Pebble Beach-to finish tied for sixth at TPC Scottsdale. He carded an 8-under 63 in the second round, the lowest round of the tournament, and hit all 18 greens in regulation, which he had done only one other time in 843 official rounds on tour.

15. Sam Burns

It’s probably only a matter of time before Burns starts heating up again, after a relatively quiet start to 2023. He carded a 7-under 64 in the third round of the WM Phoenix Open, his 15th such round of 64 or better since 2021. According to Justin Ray of Twenty First Group, that’s the best of any tour player during that span.

16. Cameron Young

Young, the 2022 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, had quite the week. He finished second in the Saudi International, 2 shots behind LIV Golf’s Abraham Ancer, and collected $525,000. He flew back to the U.S. to compete in the WM Phoenix Open, and the long travel seemed to catch up with him. He finished 5 over, which was third-worst among players who made the cut.

17. Si Woo Kim

Kim grabbed his fourth PGA Tour victory when he rallied from 3 shots back to catch Hayden Buckley and win the Sony Open in Hawaii. His career victory total is second among South Korean golfers; K.J. Choi had eight PGA Tour wins. Kim backed that win up with consecutive top-25 finishes at the American Express, Farmers Insurance Open and WM Phoenix Open.

18. Sungjae Im

Kim, from South Korea, is tough to beat when his putter gets hot. After opening with a 70 in Phoenix, he caught fire over the final 54 holes to tie for sixth. During a 12-hole stretch in the second round, Im needed only 14 putts. He had six birdies in his first eight holes in the second round before picking up three bogeys on the second nine.

19. Jason Day

The Australian is still searching for his first PGA Tour victory since the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship, but there are plenty signs of hope. After finishing solo fifth at Phoenix, he now has three top-10s and seven top-25s in nine starts this season. Day had just two top-10s and five top-25s in 19 starts last season. Day climbed from No. 91 to No. 57 in the OWGR, moving him closer to the top 50 for an invitation to the Masters in April.

20. Justin Rose

Did the former world No. 1 player catch lightning in a bottle at Pebble Beach, where he picked up his first PGA Tour victory in four years, or was it the start of a real resurgence? Rose likes his new equipment, caddie and coach and is comfortable with the team around him again. He’s 13th strokes gained: total and has putted well this season.

Best of the week

Best tee shot

Like Deion Sanders, Rickie Fowler is coming. He’s coming.

Best drive

Max seemed a bit angry after 16.

Best putt

Schauffele made more than 89 feet of putts — on the first five holes Sunday.

Best save

What fence (or tree, bush and humans)?

Best sand shot

Yeah, that’s good.

Best break

Livin’ right. Did he even call “bank”?

Best moment

Brett White, who had to relearn how to walk and talk after battling a brain infection six years ago, made his PGA Tour debut.

Best reaction

Best social media of the weekend

Play it where it lies, Jordan.

Stewart Cink knew how to win over the Phoenix fans.

Yeah, you might want to move those next year.

And you thought Pamplona was wild.

For the people …

Would you expect anything else?

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