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Golf Power Rankings – The Top 20 Golfers for 2021
Dustin Johnson’s late-season charge has created substantial separation in the Official World Golf Ranking. The days of seeing three or four players oscillating back and forth at the top are a thing of the past – at least for the time being.
Looking ahead to the upcoming calendar year, I’ve got my eye on a number of players making a move up the board. With that in mind, here’s an early edition of golf power rankings for 2021.
The Countdown: No.’s 20-11
As much as I’ll be rooting for Tiger and Phil, it’d be naïve of me to deem either one a top-20 player in the world at this stage of their careers. Tiger doesn’t play enough, and Phil rarely puts himself in contention on a Sunday.
In terms of the guys who barely missed out on being recognized in the top 10, here’s how my list shakes out.
- 20 – Scottie Scheffler
- 19 – Cameron Smith
- 18 – Abraham Ancer
- 17 – Brooks Koepka
- 16 – Harris English
- 15 – Tony Finau
- 14 – Tommy Fleetwood
- 13 – Webb Simpson
- 12 – Daniel Berger
- 11 – Collin Morikawa
I didn’t forget about Tyrrell Hatton or Matthew Fitzpatrick, and I’m not writing Hideki Matsuyama off. However, I had to draw the line somewhere.
Now for the cream of the crop.
10 – Patrick Reed
- OWGR (End of 2020): 11
- 2019-20 FedEx Cup Final Standing: T8
While his bid to become the first American golfer to win the Race of Dubai fell short, Patrick Reed is experiencing no shortage of confidence heading into 2021. With nothing worse than T14 on his game log across his last six starts, why wouldn’t Reed feel like he’s one of the best golfers in the world?
Patrick’s not always the straightest driver, and his iron play can sometimes get a little off-kilter. With that being said, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone on the PGA Tour as stellar as Reed is on and around the greens.
9 – Viktor Hovland
- OWGR (End of 2020): 14
- 2019-20 FedEx Cup Final Standing: T20
Talk about a young player streaking into 2021, Viktor closed out his season winning in Mayakoba and finishing 3rd at the DP World Tour Championship. In fact, it wasn’t just the tail end of the season where Hovland caught fire – he’s been lights-out since the beginning of the summer.
Case in point – Viktor cracked the top-25 12 times in 17 starts, post-restart.
From #95 at the end of 2019 to #15 at the end of 2020, expect the Norwegian golfer to be firmly entrenched as a top-10 player by this time next year.
8 – Matthew Wolff
- OWGR (End of 2020): 15
- 2019-20 FedEx Cup Final Standing: 35
The definition of a can’t-miss talent coming out of Oklahoma State has done anything but disappoint roughly 18 months into his professional career. Thanks to a victory, a couple of top-5s in majors, and more than $5.6 million stuffed into his bank account, it’s safe to say that it’s been a solid start for Matthew Wolff.
That’s a wrap for 2020 golf! Can definitely say it’s a year I won’t forget. Thanks to everyone for the support along the way. Excited to keep grinding but first a little r&r with the fam ❤️ pic.twitter.com/HgQf8frDn5— Matthew Wolff (@matthew_wolff5) December 14, 2020
Remember, Matthew doesn’t turn 22 until the Wednesday after the 2021 Masters, and he’s yet to see all of the courses utilized in the typical PGA Tour rotation. In other words, this dude is trending upwards.
7 – Patrick Cantlay
- OWGR (End of 2020): 9
- 2019-20 FedEx Cup Final Standing: 34
If you like flashy and boisterous, this isn’t your guy. If you appreciate a player who combines raw talent with hard work and incredible determination, start paying attention to Patrick Cantlay.
The 28-year-old former standout at UCLA is a walking ATM whenever he steps inside the ropes, and his consistency across all areas of his games is something all aspiring golfers should strive for.
Here’s a silent assassin who has missed one cut since March of 2019 and someone who recently charged past Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas during the final round of a big tournament (2020 Zozo Championship). So yeah, I have zero qualms about placing Patrick Cantlay in the top-10 of my golf power rankings for 2021.
6 – Xander Schauffele
- OWGR (End of 2020): 8
- 2019-20 FedEx Cup Final Standing: T2
Like Cantlay, Xander Schauffele remains quiet, calm, and collected at all times on the links. While most young players would fold like cheap suits when the pressure mounts on the big stage, this kid digs deep and finds a way to excel.
Just how solid is Schauffele, one might ask.
Try sizing up top-10 finishes in half of his major appearances (7/14) and top-25s in each of his last 12 outings.
There might be a couple of guys who are more dependable than the X-Man, but you cant count that group of players on one hand.
5 – Rory McIlroy
- OWGR (End of 2020): 4
- 2019-20 FedEx Cup Final Standing: T8
After spending all of 2020 ranked inside the top-5, the sport’s purest driver has no plans of exiting the select company. The only thing on Rory’s mind is winning golf tournaments and continuing to pad his bank account.
With the birth of his daughter having settled in by the time 2021 gets underway, I suspect McIlroy hits the ground running on the West Coast. He’ll have enough hot putting weeks to visit the winner’s circle a couple of times, and I especially like his chances at Torrey Pines in June.
4 – Jon Rahm
- OWGR (End of 2020): 2
- 2019-20 FedEx Cup Final Standing: 4
On the verge of a big switch to Callaway, it’s going to take a lot more than changing equipment to throw Jon Rahm off his game. I’m pretty sure this gifted Spaniard could break par with a bag of shovels and beach balls if he had to.
Rather than be subjective in telling you “Rahmbo” has no weaknesses to speak of, I’ll instead simply point out that he led the PGA Tour in SG: Total this past season.
And keep in mind, the “nappy factor” comes in to play with his wife Kelley due to give birth to the couple’s first child.
3 – Bryson DeChambeau
- OWGR (End of 2020): 5
- 2019-20 FedEx Cup Final Standing: 22
Bryson gets a lot of attention for bashing the cover off the ball, and rightfully so. Achieving 195+ mph ball speed while keeping it on the short grass is a feat that most can’t even comprehend, and yet DeChambeau does it on the regular.
Nevertheless, what doesn’t get talked about nearly enough is how terrific of a putter the “Mad Scientist” has become.
To shed light on that claim, know that Bryson led the PGA Tour in putting from between 5-10’. Even more impressive, DeChambeau converted the highest % of putts from inside 10’ (91.2%) since Jim Furyk in 2002.
2 – Justin Thomas
- OWGR (End of 2020): 3
- 2019-20 FedEx Cup Final Standing: T2
You can search far and wide, and you won’t find anything regarding Justin Thomas’ golf game that isn’t top-notch. JT has won multiple times every year since triumphing 5 times in 2017 and even reached world #1 after winning the WGC in Memphis.
One of the best bets to win the 2021 Masters has played poorly before, he just hasn’t done it in a really long time. Six consecutive top-12s to culminate his 2020 campaign.
1 – Dustin Johnson
- OWGR (End of 2020): 1
- 2019-20 FedEx Cup Final Standing: 1
JT’s six straight top-12 to close out the year sounds inspiring – until you take a peek at what Dustin Johnson has been up to during his last six starts.
We’re not approaching Tiger Woods’ heyday where we’re going to see a golfer priced at even money to win a major, but expect to see DJ atop the betting sheet at every golf tournament he enters for the foreseeable future.
A dominant wedge player who has the baby-cut on repeat appears to have finally solved his putting woes. That’s bad news for the rest of the PGA Tour.