Tag: PGA Tour

Tour ’23: Scottie Wins in Scottsdale and Tiger Returns at Riviera

Scheffler moves to #1 and Tiger Returns at Riviera

Scottie Scheffler defended his title last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, defeating Canadian Nick Taylor by two strokes in the PGA Tour’s first full field event of the season. With this latest victory, Scheffler has moved back into the number one spot on the official World Golf Rankings, and number five in the FedEx Cup standings.

The even bigger news is that Tiger will make his first start of the year at Riviera this week in a star-studded field—and all eyes will be glued to CBS Sports and Golf Channel this weekend to see how close he is to the Tiger of old (and if he’s ready to continue the pursuit of Jack’s major championship record).

Scottie wins at TPC Scottsdale

WM Phoenix Open

Eighteen of the Top twenty players in the World Golf Rankings were in the field last week at TPC Scottsdale, and seven finished in the top 10. In addition to Scottie Scheffler jumping to #1 in the world with his win, Jon Rahm continued his dominant play in ‘22-23 with a 3rd place finish (Rahm has finished in the top 10 in all five of the events he’s played this season, including two wins).

Justin Thomas (No. 7) and Jordan Spieth (No. 16) each recorded their first top 10 of the year, and look like they are gearing up to make a challenge at Augusta (which is not too far away).

Xander Schauffele (No. 6) continued his strong play thus far in the young season with a T10 (Xander has made the cut in all 5 of the events he’s played including 3 top 10’s), and Sungjae Im (No. 18) recorded his 3rd top 10 of the season with a T6.

Rory McIlroy (No. 2) made his first PGA Tour start of the calendar year after a win at the CJ Cup back in October, finishing well back at 4 under par (T32).  His win on the DP World Tour at Dubai in January gave him 2 wins in his previous 2 starts, so Rory’s head-to-head match-up with Scottie and the red-hot Jon Rahm was highly anticipated, but some loose driving and an ice-cold putter resulted in a failure to launch—perhaps Tiger’s presence this week in LA will ignite him

Jason Day (5th), Rickie Fowler (T10) and Keagan Bradley (T20) also continued their 2023 resurgence, while a bit of comic relief jumped up on Sunday when a streaker ran onto the 16th green wearing only his underwear and grabbed the flag stick before flopping into the nearby pond (and was quickly escorted away by Security).  

The Riviera Country Club: Tiger’s back

Tiger at Riviera

Tiger’s return at Riviera this week will be his first start on the PGA Tour since The Open Championship last summer, where it was apparent that his come-back needed more time as he missed the cut. The general consensus had been that Tiger would only play the major championships this year, starting with the Masters.

The Genesis, however is Tiger’s tournament and his foundation (TGR) has been hosting the event since 2020. Riviera is also a special place for Tiger because its where he made his PGA Tour debut back in 1992 at the age of 16.

Youthful Tiger

Expectations were sky high for the young phenom as an enormous gallery gathered to follow him that day at Riviera, and Tiger got a glimpse of the future when he was swarmed by media after completing a first round 72.  

In his pre-tournament press conference, Tiger said he was ready to compete, and would not tee it up if he didn’t think he had a chance to win—although his record “wasn’t very good at Riviera.”

Of course, “not very good” is based on Tiger’s standard for himself. Scheduling conflicts and injury limited him to only twelve starts at Rivieras since he first came out on the Tour in 1996, and although he never notched a win, he finished among the top twenty in ten of those twelve, including four top 10’s (and twice runner-up), while missing the cut only once.

Every other player on tour would be thrilled with that kind of record at a tour event, but Tiger is in a category of his own—and the reason the world will be watching when he tees it up on Thursday.

The Genesis Invitational

The Genesis Invitational

The Genesis Invitational, historically known as the LA Open, has been played at iconic Riviera Country fifty-nine times since the event was first played in 1926, and forty-eight of fifty since 1973.

All of the greats in golf history have teed it up at Riviera, including Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Sam Sneed, Arnie and Byron Nelson.

For year’s Riviera was called “Hogan’s Alley” because he won there three times (’42, ’47 and ’48), and the club has been home to many of the biggest stars in Hollywood (including Humphrey Bogart, who was seen taking in the play from beneath a Sycamore on the 12th hole so often that it became known as “Bogeys Tree”).

Bogeys tree: 12th Hole at Riviera

In addition to Tiger, this year’s field includes nineteen of the top twenty players in the World, and the leaderboard will be jammed with the biggest names in golf as the tournament heads through the weekend to what will no doubt be high drama on Sunday—so make sure you tune in and get ready to hold onto your hats.

The Players: Coming in May

Looking Ahead

The last tournament of February is the famed Honda Classic at PGA National Resort in Palm Beach, Florida (February 23-26). This event will officially kick off the ‘Florida Swing’, where players will be competing in four events in the state of Florida. These include the Arnold Palmer Invitational (March 2-5), The Players Championship (March 9-12), and the Valspar Championship (March 16-19).

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PGA Tour 2023: The West Coast Swing

Rham and Scheffler Battle at TPC Scottsdale

While the 2023 wrap-around PGA Tour season technically began back in September, the year really begins to roll with the “West Coast Swing.” The first leg was the American Express at La Quinta, featuring a stiff test on the Stadium Course designed by Pete Dye, and then moved over to The Farmers at Torrey Pines, where Tiger famously won the US Open Championship in 2008 playing on a broken leg.

The third stop on the Swing was the AT&T Pro-Am, home to perhaps the greatest course in the world–Pebble Beach Golf Links. This week is the WM Phoenix Open, played at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona.

The history of the WM Phoenix Open goes all the way back to 1932, and was originally called the “Arizona Open,” held at Phoenix Country Club. In 1987 the tournament moved to the Championship Course at TPC Scottsdale, designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish.

Next week the West Coast Swing moves back to California and the Genesis Invitational at iconic Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, where Tiger just announced that he will be making his 2023 season debut (and also where he made his first appearance on the PGA Tour).

PGA West: Rham wins American Express

The Recap

Jon Rahm won the American Express, his second PGA Tour win of the 2022-2023 season, where he outlasted young Davis Thompson with a one stroke margin at 27 under par. The Farmers Insurance Open saw Max Homa winning his 6th PGA Tour event, where he took down a charging Keegan Bradley, who recorded his 3rd top 10 of the 2023 season to build on his resurgence in 2022 when he recorded 6 top 10’s.

Another big name, Justin Rose, suddenly emerged from the doldrums with an impressive win last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, ending a four-year victory drought by beating Brendan Todd and Brandon Wu by three strokes.

The West Coast swing has delivered plenty of excitement thus far, and this weekend promises even more as Rory McIlroy joins the field at TPC Scottsdale.

TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale AZ

WM Phoenix Open

TPC Scottsdale is home to one of the most popular tour events of the season, where a half million or more golf fanatics assemble each year to watch their favorites and let it all hang out.

The centerpiece of the tournament is the par 3 16th hole, otherwise known as “The Coliseum,” where raucous spectators turn it up to max volume, testing the focus of even the most seasoned tour pro.

Past winners include many of the biggest names in golf, including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Johnny Miller, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, and Rickie Fowler.

16th at TPC Scottsdale: The coliseum

Tiger left his tracks at TPC Scottsdale in 1997 with a hole-in-one at The Coliseum, and the intensity of the thunderous ovation registered on the Richter scale all the way over at Caltech in Pasadena.

This week’s field includes most of the top players in the world, headlined by Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, and two-time past winner Hideki Matsuyama.

As we head into Sunday, Scottie Scheffler is in the lead as he ramps it up to capture back-to-back Player of the Year honors–while trying to hold off the red-hot Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Nick Taylor. Jason Day and Rickie Fowler are also among the leaders as they look to continue 2023 comeback seasons.

With Scheffler, Rahm, Rory, and a field stacked with the top players on tour jockeying for position, the weekend will be loaded with thrills–and it’s a pretty good bet that the final round on Sunday will be one you won’t want to miss.

Looking Ahead

The Players: Jewel of the Florida Swing

All eyes will be on Tiger when he tees it up at the Genesis Invitational next week at Riviera Country Club in LA. What already promised to be a great week of golf just jumped to a new level of excitement before the Tour heads east for the Florida Swing.

Genesis Invitational 2023: Tiger’s back

The Honda Classic at PGA National Resort in Palm Beach will be first up (February 23-26), where the world’s best will have to negotiate the infamous “Bear Trap,” followed by the Arnold Palmer Invitational (March 2-5) at Bay Hill.

The Players (March 9-12) highlights the Florida swing, followed by the Valspar Championship (March 16-19).

There’s a great stretch of golf on the horizon, and before you know it The Masters will be here, the best golf week of the year—can’t help smiling about that.

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PGA Tour: 2023 Season Preview

Scottie and Rory: Ready to resume battle in 2023

Scottie Scheffler had a break-out season in 2022 with his win at The Masters, 3 regular tour victories and 6 more top 10 finishes—capping it off with PGA Tour Player of the Year.   

And with 3 Tour wins and a Top 10 at all four majors, including runner up at The Masters, 3rd at the Open Championship, and a T5 at the US Open, Rory McIlroy gave Scheffler a run for his money—adding a huge cherry on top with his FedEx Cup victory.

The 2023 season promises even more excitement, as Jon Rahm has his game ramped up to full power for an all-out assault on the majors, and Justin Thomas, Collen Morikawa, Patrick Cantley and Tony Finau appear to be primed and ready for a big year as well.

In addition to the deep field of top stars, there is a host of mega-talented young players looking to hit it big on Tour in ‘23, along with a few big-name Tour veterans who had dropped out of sight in recent years, but appear ready to make some noise again in 2023.

Here’s where they stand so far in the wrap-around 2022-23 season.

Jon Rahm: Four Top 10’s and 2 wins in 2023

Who’s Hot

Jon Rahm
After a relatively quiet 2022 season where Jon failed to record a top 10 in any of the major championships, Rahm has finished among the top 10 in all four tournaments he’s entered thus far in ‘23, including 2 wins in January (Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, and the American Express at La Quinta).

Scottie Scheffler
Continuing his fantastic 2022 season, Scottie has made the cut in all five events he’s entered this year, including 3 top 10’s (T3 at Mayakoba, T7 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T9 at the Cadence Bank Houston Open), narrowly missing another top 10 at the American Express where he finished in a tie for 11th.

Rory McIlroy
McIlroy has played one PGA Tour event (CJ Cup in South Carolina in October) and one DP Tour event (Hero Dubai Desert Classic last week), winning them both. The wins moved Rory past Lee Trevino into No. 20 among the GolfDay All-time Top 100 players.

Two Tour wins in 2023

Max Homa
Max recorded 2 wins in 2022 and has added 2 more thus far in the ’23 season (The Fortinet Championship in September and The Farmers last week at Torrey Pines. Homa has made the cut in all 5 of the events he’s played thus far, finishing among the top 10 in 4 of them. At 32 years old, Max is in his prime and it should not come as a surprise if he adds a major championship to the to 6 Tour wins that he has recorded since 2018.

Tony Finau
Coming off a terrific 2022 season where Tony notched 2 wins (back-to-back at the 3M Open and the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July) with 5 additional top 10’s, Finau is off to a fast start in 2023 masking the cut in 4 of 5 events with 3 top 10’s. This may be the year that Tony brings his power game to bear at a major championship.

Collen Morikawa: 2 time major winner

Collin Morikawa
While two-time major champion Collin Morikawa failed to record a win in 2022, he still notched 8 top 10’s including a 5th place finish at The Masters and a T5 at the US Open. The start to his 2023 season has been solid as well, making the cut in all 5 of the events he’s entered with 2 top 10’s, including a runner up at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and 3rd at The Farmers last week.

Taylor Montgomery
After 2 successful seasons on the Korn Ferry Tour, Montgomery is off to a hot start to his PGA Tour career, making the cut in all 10 of his starts in 2023 with 4 top-10’s. Taylor hits it a long way (308-yard average off the tee), and he’s ranked No. 1 in putting and No. 1 in scoring—a pretty good formula for success.

Sahith Theegala and Tom Kim: Young Guns on Tour

Young Guns

Sahith Theegala
In 2022, his first full season on Tour, 25-year-old Theegala made the cut in 26 of the 32 events he entered–with 5 top 10’s including a tie for runner up at the Travelers and a trip to the Tour Championship. Thus far in 2023, Sahith has made the cut in 8 of 9 events with 4 top 10’s. It’s only a matter of time before he records his first Tour win, and sooner is more likely than later.

Tom Kim
Yet another young phenom coming out of South Korean, 20-year-old Tom Kim is off to a blazing start to his PGA Tour career, making the cut in 6 of the 7 events he’s played, including a win (the Shriners Children’s Open in October) and 2 additional top 10’s. It seems almost certain that he will notch another win or two as the season progresses, and keep an eye on him at the majors as well.

Day, Fowler and Bradley: Back on track in 2023


Jason Day
After yet another dismal season in 2022 where Jason made the cut in only 12 of 19 events, Day looks like he may have things turned around. Thus far in 2023 he has made the cut in 6 of the 8 events he has played, recording 2 top 10’s (already matching his 2022 total). Jason certainly has the talent, and at 35 there should still be plenty in tank.

Rickie Fowler
Rickie is back with Butch Harmon, and the results are starting to pay off. He’s made the cut in 5 of 6 events with 2 top 10’s in ‘23, and his confidence is growing with each start (including a solid T11 with a 67 in the 3rd round at Torrey Pines last week). That elusive major may be a big ask, but Rickie is still only 34, and there’s something about his look that tells me he’s back. 

Keegan Bradley
Keegan’s game began to come back in 2022, making the cut in 19 of 25 events with 6 top 10’s.  So far in 2023 Bradley has kicked it up another notch, making the cut in 5 of 6 starts with 3 top 10’s including a win at the Zozo Championship and a runner-up at The Farmers last week including a 66 in the final round on the difficult South course.  At 36 years old, it would seem we have not seen the last of Keegan Bradley.

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Scottie and Rory: PGA Tour’s Best in 2022

Scottie and Rory: Going Head-to-Head

Scottie Scheffler took home the Jack Nicklaus award as PGA Tour Player of the Year for 2022, and it was certainly well deserved after such a fantastic season—but it was definately not a “slam dunk” as some are saying. When you take a close look at the season Rory McIlroy put together, you pretty much need a razor blade to separate them.

The Majors

Scheffler’s win at The Masters was a brilliant performance, but keep in mind that Rory finished runner-up at Augusta with a magnificent final round 64 (a shot off the lowest rounds ever recorded at The Masters—63 by Nick Price in ’86 and again by Greg Norman in ’96).

Scottie also had a superb run at the 2022 U.S. Open, finishing a shot behind Matthew Fitzpatrick for runner-up. But remember that Rory was also among the leaders at The Country Club on Sunday afternoon, finishing with a T5.

Scottie Scheffler: 2022 Masters Champion

And while Scottie missed the cut at the PGA Championship, and was outside the top 20 at The Open Championship, Rory recorded a Top 10 at the PGA (8th) and finished 3rd at The Open.

In 16 rounds at the major championships in 2022, Rory recorded 9 rounds under 70 with a scoring average of 69.2, while Scottie recorded 7 rounds under 70 with a scoring average of 69.7.

Although Rory was unable to record a major win in 2022, finishing in the top 10 at all four majors is a rarely accomplished feat. Tiger did it in 2000 when he recorded a T5 at The Masters and then won the other 3 major championships. Jack did it 3 times (1971, 1973, 1974), Brooks Koepka did it in his fantastic 2019 season (win at the PGA, 2nd at the U.S. Open, T2 at The Masters and a T4 at The Open Championship) and Rickie Fowler recorded Top-5 finishes at all four majors in 2014 (including runner-up at the U.S. Open and The Open Championship).

Scottie gets the edge with a major win and a runner-up, but Rory had one of the most outstanding major championship seasons on record—so it’s pretty darn close.

McIlroy: Leads Tour in Scoring

The Tour Season

In addition to his Masters win, Scheffler recorded 3 regular tour wins (including the WGC Match Play Championship). McIlroy also recorded 3 regular season wins, including the Tour Championship. Rory made the cut in 14 of the 16 events he played in 2022 (88%) and recorded 10 Top 10 finishes (63%), while Scottie made the cut in 21 of 25 events (84%) with 11 Top-10’s (44%).

Scheffler: 3 Tours wins and Major Championship

From a performance standpoint, Rory led the Tour in scoring average at 68.7 and he was 2nd in driving distance at 321.3. Scottie was fourth in scoring average at 69.3 and 19th in driving distance at 311.6—but Scheffler was #1 in greens in regulation (72.3%) while Rory was #12 at 69.9 %.

Scheffler also recorded 3 regular season runner-up finishes—a T2 at the Houston Open, 2nd at the Charles Schwab Challenge and a T2 at the Tour Championship).

Both Scottie and Rory had phenomenal regular seasons on Tour, and from the numbers it looks pretty much like a flat-footed tie.

The FedEx Cup

Scottie Scheffler was No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings going into the Tour Championship, so under the new format he began the tournament at -10, six shots ahead of Rory who was No. 7 and began at -4.

Scheffler and McIlroy played flawless golf through the first 3 rounds, and both were -13 going into Sunday’s final round—but Scottie still held a six-shot advantage due to the FedEx standings adjustment (Scheffler was -23 and Rory was at -17).

Although Rory wasn’t able to put four fantastic rounds together at any of the 2022 major championships, he put the hammer down at the Tour Championship and fired a closing 66 to finish at -17 (21 under total with the adjustment). When Scheffler faltered with a final round 73 (20 under total), McIlroy had erased the massive deficit to take the championship—and also the FedEx Cup for a record third time.

McIlroy: Wins Tour Championship and FedEx Cup

The Wrap Up

Scottie Scheffler had a great year in 2022, and he will be a force to reckon with on the PGA Tour for many years to come. His win at The Masters, strong showing at the U.S. Open, and consistent performance throughout the year make it hard to argue with his choice as Player of the Year.

With his impressive comeback victory at the Tour Championship and third FedEx Cup, however, McIlroy closed the gap with Scottie to a photo finish—and most certainly not a Scheffler “slam dunk” as some are saying.

Rory played only 16 events on the PGA Tour in 2022 (he also played 2 on the DP World Tour, finishing 3rd at the Dubai Desert Classic and runner-up at the BMW PGA Championship), while Scottie played 25 Tour events, and that also moves the needle a bit more toward Scheffler—but we think Rory edged him by a nose with his third FedEx Cup.

One thing is for sure, the 2022-2023 PGA Tour season (and major championships) are going to be pretty exciting with Scottie and Rory going head-to-head.

When you put Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantley, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Jordan Spieth and Tony Finau into the mix, and then top it off with young stars like Sungjae Im, Cameron Young, Will Zalatoris and Victor Hoveland—2023 is shaping up to be one heck of a year on the PGA Tour.

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The Players Who Made Time Stand Still

Vijay Singh and Kenny Perry: Defied the Laws of Nature

Not surprisingly, when PGA Tour players hit forty years old the wins start to become fewer and far between, and top 10 finishes occur with far less frequency. And by forty-five, the Champions Tour starts to look pretty attractive if the competitive juices are still flowing.

Phil Wins PGA at 51

When Phil won the PGA Championship in 2021 at 51 years old, it sent shock waves through the golf world. A half century had passed since Julius Boros, the oldest to win a major before Phil, won the PGA in 1968 at 48 years old. And while Mickelson maintained his skills at a high level throughout his 40’s, he was still not the same player he was in his 30’s. Phil recorded 21 wins in his 30’s with a 37% top 10 percentage, but won only 6 times in his 40’s with a top 10 percentage of 22% (still very high).

Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer: 88 Wins on Champions Tour

Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer lead the list for wins on the Champions Tour (Irwin with 45 and Langer with 43), but even they did not come close to carrying the success they had when they were in their 30’s into their 40’s. In his 30’s, Langer recorded 18 wins on the European Tour (now the DP World Tour) and also won the Masters, but won only 9 times in his 40’s. And while Hale Irwin won the U.S. Open at 45, he recorded only 2 other Tour wins in his 40’s as compared with 13 wins while in his 30’s.

Players who actually got better in their 40’s are extremely rare, but Vijay Singh and Kenny Perry did exactly that—and seemingly defied the laws of nature.

Vijay Singh: 23 Wins After Turning 40

Vijay Singh

Vijay was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006, and with 3 major championships and 31 additional tour wins, he is among the top twenty players in golf history. Over the course of his career, Vijay made the cut in 87% of the tournaments he entered and finished in the top 10 over 35% of the time—but what really sets him apart is the age at which he recorded so many of those wins.

While in his 30’s, Singh recorded 11 wins, including 2 major championships while finishing among the top 10 in over 34% of the tournaments he entered. In his 40’s, Vijay won 23 times, including another major championship and ten major Top-10’s.

Most amazing is that Vijay’s top 10 percentage was over 37% from 40-49 years old, higher than it was in his 30’s—and no other player in the history of the game has performed at that level through his 40’s.

Vijay was always recognized as one of the greatest drivers of all-time, and he maintained his length and accuracy far beyond the boundaries of what mere mortals generally achieve. If his putting stroke had approached the level of his game tee-to-green, Singh would surely be smiling down from the Mt. Rushmore of golf alongside Jack and Tiger.

Kenny Perry: Aged Like a Fine Wine

Kenny Perry

Kenny Perry turned 27 years old in August of 1987, his first full season on the PGA Tour—so his golf career got started quite a bit later than most. In his first 3 years, Kenny finished in the top 10 only 7 times in 85 starts, and he didn’t record his first Tour win until he was 31 (The Memorial in 1991).

In his 30’s, Perry won 3 times on Tour and made the cut in just over 68% of the events he entered, finishing in the top 10 just over 13% of the time (solid, but not among the top echelon on Tour). While Kenny had a very good year in 1998 at age 36 with a runner-up at the PGA Championship and 8 Tour top-10’s, his next 3 years were pretty mediocre as he failed to record a win and finished in the top 10 a total of 7 times.

But as the 3rd millennium arrived and Kenny turned 40, the flood gates suddenly opened and Perry rose like the phoenix, tacking on 11 additional tour wins and 4 major top 10’s.

From age 40-49, Kenny made the cut in over 84% of the tour events he entered and finished in the top 10 nearly 25% of the time—a massive increase from the numbers he recorded in his 30’s.

No player in Tour history ever elevated his game to such a degree after turning 40, and we rank Kenny Perry among the Top 100 players of all-time. Perry also won 10 times on the Champions Tour (including 4 Senior Major championships).

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LIV Golf: Reality Check

Henrik Stenson and Charl Schwartzel: LIV Winners

As the final round of the FedEx Cup playoffs gets under way this afternoon at East Lake Golf Club to determine if Rory or Xander Schauffele can chase down Scottie Scheffler, much of the media’s attention has been focused on LIV. Conjecture abounds concerning Cam Smith’s imminent departure from the PGA Tour, the identity of a large contingent of “big names” rumored to be on the verge of making the move, where that will leave the future of the Tour, and Tiger’s plan to thwart the attack.

While these are hot topics, perhaps it’s a good time to take a step back and examine the facts as they currently stand. Rory McIlroy, the highest profile player in the world, isn’t going anywhere. Should Scotty Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth or Xander Schauffele suddenly announce an intention to defect—well, that could certainly change the landscape. Don’t expect it to happen.

Unless LIV moves from 3 rounds/54 holes (similar to the Champions Tour) to 4 rounds/72 holes (in line with all significant professional golf tours worldwide), and can bolster field depth, the OWGR (Official World Golf Rankings) will be justified in viewing their events as glorified exhibitions—offering no WGR points for LIV tournament finishes.

Jon Rahm: Committed to the PGA Tour

One of the primary criteria for gaining entry to major championships, the most important events in golf, is a player’s position in the World Golf Rankings—and lucrative sponsorship opportunities inevitably go to major championship winners. Performance at the majors is also the biggest factor in determining where a player will be viewed among the all-time greats of the game.

Golf professionals have a limited window of opportunity to build their record, with major championships and tour wins coming at far lower frequency as a player moves into their mid to late 30’s (the “prime” years for a PGA Tour pro is 25-35). Jack and Tiger won 28 of their 33 major championships before reaching 36 years of age.

The reality is that the vast majority of players who have moved over to LIV are either at the tail end of their prime or beyond it, with little to lose and a great deal to gain by taking the money.

DJ and Koepka: Cashing Out

The Biggest Names

Dustin Johnson, at 38 years old, has his prime years behind him. 2021 was the first season since coming out on Tour in 2008 that Dustin failed to record a win, and 2022 wasn’t looking any better with just 2 top 10’s in 12 events. While Johnson still had an opportunity to move into the top 20 players all-time, the window was beginning to close—so his decision to cash out was not all that surprising.

Brooks Koepka, now 32 years old, had a solid year in 2021 with 3 major Top-10’s and a win at the Phoenix Open, but his 2022 season was looking pretty dismal with just 2 top 10’s in 17 starts. And while Brooks is known for coming up big at the majors, he recorded just 4 wins at regular tour events in his career. To move into the top 50 players all-time, Brooks would need a number of muti-win seasons on Tour with another major championship or two in the next few years—so like Johnson, his decision to opt for big guaranteed money should not be a shocker.

LIV Winners

Charl Schwartzel, winner of the first LIV event in London, is 37 years old, and like Johnson, his prime years are behind him. Through age 33, Charl made the cut in over 80% of his starts on the PGA Tour while finishing in the top 10 almost 20% of the time. His win at the Masters, however, came back in 2011 and his last Tour win was in 2016.

Since 2018, Schwartzel made the cut in only 34 of the 67 Tour events he entered, with a total of just 8 Top 10’s—so his opportunity with LIV could not have come at a better time.

Brandon Grace: Wins in Portland

The Portland event was captured by Brandon Grace. At 34, Brandon has entered the final years of his prime—and while he’s recorded 2 PGA Tour wins and 9 wins on the DP World Tour in his career, the last 2 years have been difficult for him with 20 missed cuts in 46 events and only 4 top 10 finishes. No doubt LIV has provided welcome relief.

Winner of the New Jersey event at Trump National Bedminster, Henrik Stenson reportedly received $50 million to join LIV—and that’s a lot of money to walk away from at 46 years old. Henrik had an outstanding career with 5 wins on the PGA Tour, 9 wins on the DP World Tour plus a major win (2016 Open Championship) as well as 13 major Top-10’s.

The last 3 years, however, have been a struggle for Henrik as he made the cut in just 12 of the 36 PGA events he entered, without recording a Top 10 in any of them. While Stenson is among the top 75 players in the history of the game, and his epic battle with Phil on Sunday at Troon in 2016 will always be remembered, his ability to compete successfully on the PGA Tour was winding down—so LIV was a dream come true.

Patrick Reed: Playing the Asian Tour

The Wrap Up

Other players who have reached their twilight years and opted for LIV include Sergio Garcia (42), Paul Casey (46), Louis Oosthuizen (39) and Charles Howell III (43)—not to mention Phil at 52 years old.

Patrick Reed, who stated that his primary motivation for joining LIV was to have more time with his family, has begun entering tournaments on the Asian Tour in order to secure WGR ranking points and maintain his position among the top 50 in the world (he recorded a T31 in Singapore last week).

Unless LIV endeavors to make changes to their tournament structure and is recognized by the OWGR on a similar basis to the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour (or at the very least on par with the Asian Tour), LIV will have a difficult time luring the brightest young stars away from the PGA Tour. And its life span will be extremely limited.

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Greats of the Game: Volume II—No. 6 through 10

Tom Watson: 5 Open Championships

Major championship performance and PGA Tour wins are the biggest factors in determining where players stand in the history of golf, but making cuts and Top-10 finishes are also important for identifying excellence and consistency.

In deriving our ratings, major championship wins carry the most weight, followed by major runner-up finishes and Tour wins. Top-5 and Top-10 finishes at the majors are also given strong consideration, along with wins on the DP World Tour and to a lesser degree, wins on other recognized Tours (Japan Tour, Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour, etc.).

Making cuts and Top-10 finishes are calculated on the basis of percentage in relation to total starts at PGA Tour sanctioned events through age 49 (when players become eligible for the Champions Tour). Top 10 percentage is given considerable weight, and cut percentage is also a factor in the rating a player receives.

Cuts and Top-10 percentage are overstated as a measure for Byron Nelson and Walter Hagan because fields were limited when they were playing–but this is offset by the fact that Nelson lost prime years in his career due to WWII (Nelson was 29 in 1941), and Hagan had fewer major championship opportunities because he was 42 years old when the first Masters was played in 1934.

While Bobby Jones is certainly among the top 5 players in history with 4 U.S. Open and 3 Open Championship titles, he chose to remain an amateur and therefore has no PGA record for reference–and has not been included in our player ratings. Harry Vardon is also among the greats of the game, with 6 Open Championship titles and a win at the US Open in 1900 (plus his famous runner-up to Francis Ouimet in 1913)—but like Jones, he has no professional record for reference and has not been included in our ratings.

The Top 5 in Volume I included Nicklaus (361), Woods (346), Snead (335), Hogan (281) and Palmer (265).

In Volume II we’ll take a look at the next five on the list of all-time greatest players to round out the Top 10.

Gary Player: The Black Knight
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Number 6: Gary Player (236)

On top of his 9 major championship wins, Gary Player recorded 35 major Top-10’s (6 runner-up’s, 8 Top-5’s and 21 Top-10’s). The Black Knight also won 15 PGA Tournaments and had 95 additional world-wide wins. Player made the cut in close to 90% of his starts and finished in the top ten over 45% of the time. He competed with Jack and Arnie head-to-head throughout his prime between 1961 and 1971—playing a substantial role in building the PGA Tour, while elevating the global popularity of the game.

Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus serve as the honorary starters at The Masters each year, and they were joined by Lee Elder in 2022.

Byron Nelson: 11 Consecutive Wins

Number 7: Byron Nelson (227)

Byron Nelson won 5 major championships and 47 PGA tournaments. He also recorded 6 major runner-up’s and finished in the top 5 another 10 times. In 1945 Nelson set the record for wins in a season with 18, including 11 in a row. After the 1946 season, at 34 years old, Nelson retired from the regular tour playing only The Masters (where he finished in the top 10 every year from 1947-1951), as well as a limited number of additional Tour events (including The Colonial in Ft. Worth).

In 1968 The Byron Nelson Classic was launched in Dallas Texas, and it continues to be one of the most popular venues on the PGA Tour.

Walter Hagan: 11 Major Championships

Number 8: Walter Hagan (223)

Walter Hagan is the only player to make the cut in every tournament he played through the entirety of his career, and he finished among the top 10 in three out of every four events he entered. Hagan won 11 major championships (third behind Jack and Tiger) with 22 additional top 10 finishes, and he recorded 34 PGA tournament wins.

Hagan is considered the first American professional golfer. In the first half of the twentieth century, he and Bobby Jones were the towering figures of U.S. golf, forming the foundation for the game as we know it today.

Phil Mickelson: Wins PGA at 50

Number 9: Phil Mickelson (216)

Phil the thrill won 6 major championships, most recently at Kiawah in 2021 for his second PGA Championship at age 50 (the oldest player in history to win a major championship). Mickelson also recorded 11 runner-up finishes at the majors, second only to Jack, along with 11 Top-5’s and 11 Top-10’s.

In addition to his record at the majors, Phil won 39 PGA Tour events, making the cut in 82.3% of the tournaments he entered with a top 10 percentage of 31.5%.

Phil went up against with Tiger throughout his prime between 1996 and 2006, as well going to head-head with Ernie Els and Vijay Singh (each among the top 15 all-time).

Number 10: Tom Watson (211)

Tom Watson nearly did the impossible in 2009, when he came inches from recording his 6th Open Championship at Turnberry at the age of 58. Perhaps it should not have been such a surprise, however, when you consider Watson’s record of excellence and consistency throughout his career.

From his second full year on Tour in 1974 at age 23, through 1998 at age 48 (a quarter of a century), Watson recorded at least 4 top 10 finishes every year.

In total, Watson won 8 major championships with an additional 38 major top 10’s (including 8 runner-up and 10 top 5’s), along with 31 PGA Tour wins.

Tom made the cut in 83.9% of the tournaments he entered, and recorded top 10 finishes in just under 40% of his starts.

Gene Sarazen: No. 11

Keep an eye out for Greats of the Game Volume III, where we will take a look at Gene Sarazen (No. 11), Billy Casper (No. 12, Ernie Els (No. 13), Greg Norman (No. 14) and Vijay Sing (No. 15).

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All-time Top 100 Players

Through the Open Championship  (July 24, 2023)

Rory moves past Cary Middlecoff to tie Bobby Locke at #19

Top 25




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2023 PGA Tour Power Ranking

Through The Tour Championship (August 28, 2023)

East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta GA
Victor Hoveland: 2023 FedEx Cup Champion

Top 25



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Greats of the Game: Volume I—The Top 5

Arnold Palmer: Brings Golf to Prime-Time

Major championship performance and PGA Tour wins are the biggest factors in determining where players stand in the history of golf, but making cuts and Top-10 finishes are also important for identifying excellence and consistency.

In deriving our ratings, major championship wins carry the most weight, followed by major runner-up finishes and Tour wins. Top-5’s and Top-10’s at the majors also receive strong consideration, along with wins on the DP World Tour and to a lesser degree, wins on other recognized Tours (Japan Tour, Asian Tour, etc.).

Making cuts and Top-10 finishes are calculated on the basis of percentage in relation to total starts at PGA Tour sanctioned events through age 49 (when players become eligible for the Champions Tour). Top 10 percentage is given considerable weight, and cut percentage is also a factor in the rating a player receives.   

Cuts and Top-10 percentage are overstated as a measure for Snead and Hogan, because fields were limited–but this is offset by the fact that each lost prime years in their career due to WWII (they were both 29 in 1941).

While Bobby Jones is certainly among the top 5 players in history with 4 U.S. Open and 3 Open Championship titles, he chose to remain an amateur and therefore has no PGA record for reference–and is not included below.

Nicklaus: Still the Greatest

Number 1: Jack Nicklaus (361)

In addition to his 18 major championship wins, Jack recorded 55 Top-10 finishes at the majors (19 runner-up’s, 19 Top-5’s and 17 Top-10’s)–by far the most of any player in history. The Golden Bear also recorded 55 Tour wins along with his major championships for a total of 73, and he had the highest Top-10 percentage (60.2%) and cut percentage (93.6%) of any modern-day player.

Tiger: Closing in on Jack

Number 2: Tiger Woods (346)

Tiger is second to Jack with 15 major championship wins, a close second in Top-10 percentage (91%) and just behind Nicklaus in cut percentage as well at 54.9%. With his 67 Tour wins, Tiger is tied with Sam Snead for the most wins in history (82), and also added 8 wins on the DP world Tour. At 46 years old, Tiger still has a number of years with which to add additional wins and Top-10 finishes—so Jack’s position at No. 1 is by no means a certainty when all is said and done.  

Sam Snead: Most All-Time Wins
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Number 3: Sam Snead (335)

Sam Snead recorded 7 major championship victories along with 75 wins on Tour, setting the mark of 82 total wins (tied by Tiger.) Snead made the cut in 391 of the 394 tournaments he entered (99%), and recorded Top 10 finishes in 75% of those events. When you include 8 runner-up finishes, 15 Top-5’s and 18 Top-10’s at the major championships, Snead comes up at No. 3—just behind Tiger.

Ben Hogan: 9 major Championships

Number 4: Ben Hogan (281)

Ben Hogan won 9 major championships along with 55 PGA events. He made the cut in 97.8% of the tournaments he played, and finished in the top 10 close to 80% of the time. After his near fatal auto accident in 1949 at age 36, Hogan never played more than 6 tournaments in any year—yet won 6 more major champions and recorded an additional 15 top 10’s at the majors (including 4 runner-up’s).

Number 5: Arnold Palmer (265)

Arnie’s career spanned 55 years from 1949 through his last appearance at The Masters in 2004, and while Tiger has had a huge impact on the popularity of golf in the last 25 years, Palmer brought the game to prime-time—and set the stage for the global appeal that golf currently enjoys. And he was perfect for the role. Photogenic with a big personality, tremendous power and ability combined with a go-for-broke style of play that endeared him to millions—commonly known as “Arnie’s Army.”

Throughout the course of his career, Arnie won 7 major championships and recorded 55 wins on tour. When Jack burst onto the PGA Tour in 1962, Palmer was still in his prime at 32 years and had just won The Masters and The Open Championship—and while Arnie added only one more major win (1964 Masters), he recorded an additional 7 major runner-up’s and 7 Top-10’s through 1970.

Palmer also made the cut in 90% of the tournaments he entered, with a Top-10 percentage of 43.5%.

Byron Nelson: No. 6

Keep an eye out for Greats of the Game Volume II, where we will take a look at Gary Player (No. 6), Byron Nelson (No. 7), Walter Hagan (No. 8), Phil Mickelson (No. 9) and Tom Watson at No. 10.

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