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PGA Tour Pros’ Favourite Golf Courses

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Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm are among the biggest names in golf to have revealed their favourite golf courses.

Tiger Woods won two of his three Claret Jugs at the Old Course at St. Andrews and loves the place. “Playing at St Andrews is literally the best. It’s like going back in time. It’s one of the greatest walks coming up 18, to see the whole town there. Every great player that has ever played the game has played St Andrews. You can’t say that about any other golf course.”

Rory McIlroy, who wasn’t a fan in the past, has now come around to the hallowed venue: “The more you play it, the more you learn about the course and its nuances, the more you learn to appreciate it. Now it’s my favourite golf course in the world.”

Though he still loves the courses from his youth in Northern Ireland : “ Royal County Down , a gem of a links course. Known around the world, it regularly stands high in ‘top 100 courses’ guides, and rightly so.”

Brooks Koepka also revealed his love for the Old Course: “St Andrews, my favourite golf course in the world. I can play that every day and not get tired of it, it’s my favourite place in the entire world. The town is just so much fun.”

pga tour pros favorite courses

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler chose Southern Hills Country Club in Oklahoma as his favourite course, while No. 3 Jon Rahm said: “There are too many. Pine Valley would be at the top of the list, though.” Phil Mickelson named Pebble Beach as his final favourite golf destination: “For a golfer, Pebble Beach and the surrounding area is a must-visit.”

Viktor Hovland picked Real Club Valderrama , host of the 1997 Ryder Cup, as his favourite European course, though he recently set the course record at Lofoten Links in his native Norway , 95 miles above the Arctic Circle, and said: “It’s amazing how they can build a golf course in such a remote area and still have the course be really good. It’s pretty special.”

pga tour pros favorite courses

Justin Rose , asked by All Square to pick his top courses, had a special mention for Sunningdale Old Course in England : “It’s just how I see golf. You’re walking through a forest; it’s like a walk and you’re carrying your golf clubs. The aesthetics of it are unbelievable. It’s called heathland-style golf and it’s quite specific to that region, and this is how I see the game.”

Martin Kaymer also sat down with All Square and was asked about his favourite golf courses and his bucket-list venue. “I would say St Andrews because I’ve won there and it’s one of the most iconic golf courses.” His bucket-list course? “That must be Pine Valley . I would also like to play Cypress Point , but Pine Valley is apparently the number one golf course in America .”

Max Homa chose Riviera Country Club in his native California as the number one course he has played on tour, but has also in the past picked The National Golf Links of America . Matt Fitzpatrick opted for Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina because it suits his game, beating Augusta National into second place. “It’s my favourite course by a mile,” he said.

Going back a few years, what about golf’s true legends? 18-times major winner Jack Nicklaus named his Muirfield Village Golf Club , venue for the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour , after Muirfield in Scotland where he won the first of his three British Opens.

But the 73-time PGA Tour winner said Pebble Beach in California was his favourite: “I’ve always said, if I had one round of golf left to play, I’d play it at Pebble Beach. I think the Monterey Peninsula is probably the most unique place in the United States for golf.”

pga tour pros favorite courses

Gary Player picked St. Andrews as his number one followed by Augusta National and Trump Turnberry , while Tom Watson once said about Royal Dornoch Golf Club in Scotland, where he’s an honorary member: “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course”.

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What’s in Max Homa’s winning golf bag?

Max Homa won the Farmers Insurance Open after a six-under-par final round of 66, edging out Keegan Bradley and Collin Morikawa. Here’s the equipment he used. The American carded seven birdies and a bogey to finish on 13 under at Torrey Pines in San Diego. The 32-year-old won by two strokes ahead of Bradley, who […]

2 min read • 31 Jan 2023

RENO, NEVADA - JULY 26:  Martin Kaymer of Germany chips from the bunker onto the first green during the second round of the Barracuda Championship at Montreux Country Club on July 26, 2019 in Reno, Nevada.  on July 26, 2019 in Reno, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Exclusive Interview with two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer

All Square sat down for a Q&A with Martin Kaymer and asked him what his favourite golf courses are, his bucket-list course, his favourite golf holes, and much more. The German won the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in 2010 and the US Open at Pinehurst in 2014. The former world number one also won […]

3 min read • 26 May 2020

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Myrtle Beach Golf Trips

Wonder No More: Myrtle Beach’s 20 Best Courses Ranked By PGA Professionals

What is the best golf course in Myrtle Beach? It’s a question everyone asks, but few have tried to answer with anything other than individual opinion. We decided to change all that. MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com surveyed the Grand Strand’s most knowledgeable constituency – PGA professionals – and asked them to rank Myrtle Beach’s 20 best courses. More than 50 local pros completed the poll, providing the most comprehensive ranking of Myrtle Beach golf courses ever assembled. Sure Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and many others have previously rated area courses, but the results were determined by a select few people. These rankings are based on the votes of a large and educated electorate. Here are Myrtle Beach’s top 20 courses, according to folks who know the area best, local PGA professionals:

No. 20 Long Bay Golf Club – The Jack Nicklaus design is tough but memorable. Waste bunkers, mounding and the Golden Bear’s creativity combined to make this one of Myrtle Beach’s premier inland layouts.

No. 19 Willbrook Plantation – Located in Pawleys Island, the Dan Maples design is occasionally overshadowed by high profile neighbors like Caledonia, True Blue and Heritage, but locals know how good the course is.

No. 18 Arcadian Shores – A 2017 renovation project transformed the layout. If you are surprised to see Arcadian Shores here, you haven’t played the course in the last 18 months.

No. 17 Rivers Edge – The seven holes that play along the Shallotte River are stunning. It’s a bit of a drive from downtown Myrtle Beach, but regardless of where it’s located, Rivers Edge is a must-play layout.

No. 16 Pine Lakes Country Club – The Granddaddy was Myrtle Beach’s first course and remains one of its most revered. A Craig Schreiner-led redesign in 2009 helped ensure the course maintained its lofty standing in the market.

No 15 Thistle – The 27-hole facility, with its Scottish-inspired design, has always been popular, and the clubhouse might be the Grand Strand’s best.

No. 14 Heritage Club – Only surprise about Heritage’s spot on the list is that it’s not higher. The scenery is stunning, the layout is demanding, and the greens are, arguably, the area’s most challenging.

No. 13 Barefoot Love – The first entry from Barefoot Resort is the acclaimed Love Course, a layout Golf Magazine ranks among its “Top 100 You Can Play.” It highlights the strength of Myrtle Beach as a destination that the Love Course and Heritage are this “low.”

No. 12 Arrowhead Country Club – This was our first surprise, not so much because Arrowhead made the list but because it was this high. The Raymond Floyd design is a 27-hole facility that plays along the Intracoastal Waterway.

No. 11 Pawleys Plantation – This is one of the area’s most memorable layouts. The Jack Nicklaus design will challenge every aspect of a player’s game, and six of the final nine holes play along a tidal saltwater marsh.

Wonder No More: Myrtle Beach's 20 Best Courses Ranked By PGA Professionals~Prestwick Country Club

No. 9 Dye Course at Barefoot Resort – The longtime host of the Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am, the Dye Course is as challenging as architect Pete Dye’s reputation would suggest.

No. 8 Fazio Course at Barefoot Resort – There isn’t a signature hole or defining trait that pushes the Fazio Course near the top of the heap. It’s just an outstanding layout from start to finish.

No. 7 True Blue – This Mike Strantz design is currently ranked among Golf Magazine’s Top 100 You Can Play and Golf Channel travel guru Matt Ginella has it among his personal top 50, so this might seem a little low to some. Either way, True Blue in unquestionably one of the area’s best.

No. 6 TPC Myrtle Beach – Earlier this year, Links magazine wrote of TPC, “I don’t think I’ve seen lusher, greener, or more perfect conditions.” What more needs to be said of a layout that has hosted the Senior PGA Tour Championship and been Dustin Johnson’s home course?

No. 5 Prestwick Country Club – This course has always been a favorite of Myrtle Beach insiders but finishing this high was shocking, nonetheless. That being said, our pollsters left little doubt as to their affinity for the Pete and P.B. Dye design. We can’t call Prestwick underrated any longer.

Wonder No More: Myrtle Beach's 20 Best Courses Ranked By PGA Professionals~Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

No. 3 Tidewater Golf Club – Tidewater has long been on the short list of Myrtle Beach’s best courses. With eight holes that play along either the Intracoastal Waterway or Cherry Grove, Tidewater is the area’s most scenic track.

No. 2 Caledonia Golf & Fish Club – If traveling golfers were voting, Caledonia might top the list, but the highly acclaimed Mike Strantz design had to “settle” for second. This is a consensus top 100 public course that never fails to live up to lofty expectations.

No. 1 Dunes Golf & Beach Club – Myrtle Beach’s most storied course was the runaway winner, collecting 24 first place votes. The Robert Trent Jones Sr. classic has hosted the U.S. Women’s Open and six Senior PGA Tour Championships, among numerous other events. A semi-private layout, the Dunes Club is Myrtle Beach’s best golf course.

Get the Best Pricing on the Top 20 Myrtle Beach Golf Courses Ranked by PGA Professionals by Clicking the Image Below

pga tour pros favorite courses

Related Courses:

Long Bay Golf Club

Long Bay Golf Club

Willbrook Plantation Golf

Willbrook Plantation Golf

Pine Lakes Country Club

Pine Lakes Country Club

Thistle Golf Club

Thistle Golf Club

Rivers Edge

Rivers Edge

Heritage Club Golf Course

Heritage Club Golf Course

Barefoot Resort – Love Course

Barefoot Resort – Love Course

Arrowhead Country Club

Arrowhead Country Club

Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club

Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club

Myrtle Beach National – King’s North Course

Myrtle Beach National – King’s North Course

Barefoot Resort – Dye Course

Barefoot Resort – Dye Course

Barefoot Resort – Fazio Course

Barefoot Resort – Fazio Course

True Blue Golf Club

True Blue Golf Club

TPC Myrtle Beach

TPC Myrtle Beach

Prestwick Country Club

Prestwick Country Club

Grande Dunes Resort Club

Grande Dunes Resort Club

Tidewater Golf Club

Tidewater Golf Club

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

Dunes Golf & Beach Club

Dunes Golf & Beach Club

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PGA Pros Rank Myrtle Beach’s Top 20 Courses

More than 50 pros participated in  MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com  survey

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (Jan. 22. 2020) — What is the best course in Myrtle Beach? It’s a question everyone asks, and  MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com  wanted to answer.

The area’s leading package provider,  MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com , conducted an anonymous survey of Myrtle Beach area PGA professionals, asking them to rank the Grand Strand’s top 20 courses. More than 50 professionals participated in the poll, and the results often tracked with popular opinion but there were certainly surprises.

The famed Dunes Golf & Beach Club, a Robert Trent Jones Sr. design that has hosted USGA, PGA and LPGA events, was the clear No. 1, garnering nearly half of the first place votes. Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, a consensus top 100 layout, was second, followed by Tidewater Golf Club, the area’s most scenic course.

Grande Dunes, which features five holes that play along the Intracoastal Waterway, was fourth, and Prestwick, the biggest top 10 surprise, was No. 5. A Pete and P.B. Dye design, Prestwick has always been a favorite of locals who appreciate the challenge and quality of the architecture.

TPC Myrtle Beach, True Blue, the Fazio Course at Barefoot, the Dye Course at Barefoot, and King’s North at Myrtle Beach National rounded out the top 10.

“Traveling golfers ask us all the time what the best courses in the area are, and we wanted to be able to answer the question with more than personal opinion,” said Justin Binke, director of sales and marketing for  MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com . “What group is better qualified to rank Myrtle Beach’s premier courses than PGA professionals? We are excited to unveil the results of the survey, and we certainly hope golfers enjoy the rankings as much as we did compiling them.”

Participating PGA pros ranked courses from 1 to 20 with the top-ranked course earning 20 points and each subsequent spot receiving one fewer point. The course with the most points sat atop the rankings.

Here are Myrtle Beach’s top 20 courses, according to PGA professionals:

1.    Dunes Golf & Beach Club 2.    Caledonia Golf & Fish Club 3.    Tidewater Golf Club 4.    Grande Dunes Resort Club 5.    Prestwick Country Club 6.    TPC Myrtle Beach 7.    True Blue Golf Club 8.    Fazio Course at Barefoot Resort 9.    Dye Course at Barefoot Resort 10.   King’s North at Myrtle Beach National 11.   Pawleys Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club 12.   Arrowhead Country Club 13.   Love Course at Barefoot Resort 14.   Heritage Club 15.   Thistle Golf Club 16.   Pine Lakes Country Club 17.   Rivers Edge Golf Club 18.   Arcadian Shores Golf Club 19.   Willbrook Plantation 20.   Long Bay Club

For more information, go to  www.MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com .

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Golf News Net: What you need to know about golf

Which PGA Tour courses can the public play, and how much do they cost?

pga tour pros favorite courses

Believe it or not, you can play many of the courses the PGA Tour plays on its schedule. Between a mixture of public facilities, semi-private clubs and resorts, there are more than enough PGA Tour courses open to the public.

All told, there are 22 PGA Tour courses you can play, including multiple courses associated with several different events.

The only true public golf courses on the PGA Tour are the Torrey Pines Golf Courses, which host the annual Farmers Insurance Open near San Diego, Calif.; TPC Deere Run, home to the John Deere Classic; and Port Royal Golf Course, home to the Bermuda Championship.

The Torrey Pines courses are municipal, so they're run by the local government, with different rates for residents and non-residents of the county. However, their tee sheet is open just like any other municipal course in the United States, with weekday and weekend rates.

TPC Deere Run and Port Royal Golf Club can be accessed by the public with tee-time booking services. You can book courses like TPC Sawgrass and TPC Scottsdale through public portals on their websites, but be advised they will charge dynamic rates that can change both based on season and demand.

Most of the other courses that are publicly accessible are associated with a resort. Some require you to be a guest to play the course, like Bay Hill Club and Lodge, home of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, PGA National with their Champion Course and Silverado Resort, where the Fortinet Championship is played.

However, many of them allow the public to get a tee time to play the courses without staying there. If you do stay at the resort as a registered guest, though, some of the resorts will discount the tee times slightly.

Resorts also tend to have seasonal rates, with the green fees higher in the high season for tourism.

As always, it's worth making a call to these facilities or visiting their websites for the latest information on rates and availability.

PGA Tour golf courses you can play

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Masters Tournament

Augusta National Golf Club

A HISTORY OF EVERY HOLE AT AUGUSTA

pga tour pros favorite courses

EVERY HOLE AT AUGUSTA

pga tour pros favorite courses

The top 100 players on the PGA Tour, ranked

pga tour pros favorite courses

How did the PGA Tour's best players spend their "winter breaks?" Relaxing? Working on their games? A little of both? These are the questions we'll be asking beginning at this week's Sentry Tournament of Champions, as the tour resumes the 2021-22 season in Maui. Ahead of that, our Golf Digest staff spent its winter break coming up with our second annual ranking of the top 100 players on tour. To gather our list, we looked through the prism of what we expect from players in 2022 while acknowledging their form and feats from the recent past. Below is our collective answer.

For clarification, this list is specific to those who play on the PGA Tour. This is why you won’t see players like Victor Perez or Min Woo Lee, both fine talents who spend most of their time on the the European Tour. Obviously a handful of players compete on multiple circuits; we judged these jump balls as best we could.

Here then are the top 100 players on the PGA Tour, from No. 100 to the top spot.

100. Andrew Landry

Age: 34 / owgr (as of jan. 3, 2022): 187 / ’22 fedex cup (entering sentry toc): 40.

Landry came out on the business end of the 2020-21 “super season,” missing the cut in half of his starts and turning in a lone top-25 finish. Four MCs in six fall starts doesn’t look much better. But top-10s in those two made cuts this past autumn (T-4 at Sanderson Farms, T-7 at Mayakoba) give hope that a turnaround is ‘round the corner. — Joel Beall

99. Taylor Pendrith

Age: 30 / owgr: 229 / ’22 fedex cup: 47.

Canadian rookie has one of the most impressive moves you’ll see anywhere—think Matthew Wolff meets Jim Furyk, with 190-mph ball speed. There’s a good chance he finishes top five in driving distance when the dust settles. —Dan Rapaport

98. Jason Day

Age: 34 / owgr: 126 / ’22 fedex cup: 196.

It seems like eons since the talented but injury-prone Aussie was one of the most dominant players in golf. Coming off his worst season since 2012, when he hadn’t yet fully rounded into the form that made him a force in 2015-16, Day appears at a crossroads at age 34. Just four top-10s dotted an unremarkable season that saw him fail to reach the second round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs for the first time. He has fallen out of the top 100 in the world, and most of his struggles appear to be with his usually reliable putting, where he dropped to 95th in strokes gained. His tee-to-green game (37th SG) still shines, so there is something to build on. Or rebuild on. —Dave Shedloski

MORE: How Jason Day is rediscovering his game with an assist from a 9-year-old

97. Denny McCarthy

Age: 28 / owgr: 180 / ’22 fedex cup: 30.

If one man could ever disprove the old adage, “You drive for show and you putt for dough,” it’s this guy. McCarthy has twice led the PGA Tour in strokes gained/putting, yet he’s still searching for his maiden victory. That being said, he’s made some decent dough with $4.3 million in earnings in four seasons, and he’s started this campaign by making more with four consecutive made cuts. —Alex Myers

96. Hudson Swafford

Age: 34 / owgr: 163 / ’22 fedex cup: 118.

It's extremely difficult to bring up Swafford without noting his eerie physical similarity to college teammate Harris English, and we'll be the latest to fail. To his credit, he takes it in stride, and plods steadily along in a career that reads as "journeyman" on the surface, but does include two tour wins, including his latest in September 2020 in the Dominican Republic. It's a fact of life that Swafford is going to miss cuts, but as he proved last season, he can miss a bunch (17) and still post a high FedEx Cup finishing position (36th). — Shane Ryan

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Jared C. Tilton

95. Adam Schenk

Age: 29 / owgr: 156 / ’22 fedex cup: 37.

The man with the most unfortunate name in golf hit anything but a shank over the last eight months. Since the RBC Heritage, Schenk has finished T-18 or better five times, including three inside the top four. Should he keep it rolling into 2022, there are ample low-key, early-season events for the former Purdue Boilermaker to pick off a maiden win. —Christopher Powers

94. Adam Hadwin

Age: 34 / owgr: 150 / ’22 fedex cup: 126.

The streaky Canadian—he missed three straight cuts during three stretches in 2021—can put it all together at times. Hadwin had three top-eights last season but the short hitter rarely produces a charge on the weekend. He averaged 70.38 on both Saturday and Sunday—91st for both days on tour. —Tod Leonard

MORE: Complete top 25 of Golf Digest’s Newsmakers of 2021

93. Luke List

Age: 36 / owgr: 152 / ’22 fedex cup: 28.

List is the only player from the last decade to have led the tour in driving distance for the year and never won on tour. Most other to lead in distance, like Bubba, Bryson, DJ, and Rory, also have majors. List can hammer the ball, and his tee-to-green numbers will always be elite with that asset. But his putting has been historically poor—if you look at one of those Data Golf charts measuring five skills, the shape List delivers is more of the rare triangle than some form of pentagon. But hey, you just need one hot week with the putter and you can pull the Cameron Champ and pick off a win or two. —Brendan Porath

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92. Henrik Norlander

Age: 34 / owgr: 162 / ’22 fedex cup: 49.

The Swede finished fourth at Sanderson Farms in the fall, spurred by a final-round 64. Though he turned pro in 2011 after helping lead Augusta State to back-to-back NCAA team titles, this is just Norlander’s fifth season on the PGA Tour, alternating between the Korn Ferry and Challenge Tours in between. His strength is his iron play: Norlander ranked 27th last season on tour in strokes gained/approach. — Stephen Hennessey

91. Robert Streb

Age: 34 / owgr: 120 / ’22 fedex cup: 45.

After winning the 2020 RSM Classic, Streb played 23 events the rest of the 2020-21 season and missed more cuts than he made (12 to 11) with just three top-20 finishes. The fall was better, though, with two top-10s, and having a card through 2023 means he doesn’t have to sweat things out this season. That has to be somewhat liberating after finishing outside the top 125 in 2018, 2019 and 2020. —Ryan Herrington

90. Troy Merritt

Age: 36 / owgr: 106 / ’22 fedex cup: 52.

When you hear discussions about how the tour is looking out for its rank-and-file members, Merritt is the player they’re talking about. He’s proven he can win (he’s done it twice), made more than $11 million and has played well enough to keep his card for nine straight seasons. Yet for as consistent a career as that is, he’s never gotten to the Tour Championship. Can 2022 be different? Perhaps … he finished the fall ranked 14th in SG/approach the green and 34th total, which rank as career bests if extended through an entire season. —R.H.

89. Aaron Rai

Age: 26 / owgr: 100 / ’22 fedex cup: 59.

Perhaps known best by American golf fans for his iron headcovers, Rai made a name for himself in the U.S. in 2021, nearly winning on the Korn Ferry Tour in his first start. It was a painful runner-up finish—needing just an up-and-down to secure victory he instead took four strokes, missing a playoff—but the KFT result in Boise secured his PGA Tour card for this season. The Englishman missed his first three cuts on the PGA Tour but finished the year with three consecutive top-20s. — S.H.

1335480894

Steve Dykes

MORE: This pro’s reason for using iron headcovers will make you feel pretty bad about making fun of him

88. Brendan Steele

Age: 38 / owgr: 101 / ’22 fedex cup: 20.

The Sultan of the Safeway Open had a “down” 2021, if you consider it purely on FEC finish, which was 105th. But he still made almost $1.4 million, so he was making cuts and cashing checks, which he’s done all his career. Steele has the length to hang on the modern tour, and he’ll pick and choose his venues where he knows he can pop after several years on the circuit. —B.P.

87. Davis Riley

Age: 25 / owgr: 362 / ’22 fedex cup: 111.

Cruelly, the former Alabama star was third on the Korn Ferry points list in 2020, but didn’t get promoted when the season was extended due to the pandemic. Riley forged on with seven top-10s, including two wins, that got eventually got him onto the PGA Tour for 2021-22. The new season has been a rollercoaster—four missed cuts, countered by a T-7 in Bermuda. The flat stick in a hinderance: Riley is 131st in SG/putting. —T.L.

86. Chris Kirk

Age: 36 / owgr: 96 / ’22 fedex cup: 97.

Between 2011 and 2015, Kirk ripped off four wins and earned a spot on the 2015 U.S. Presidents Cup team. The six years that followed were tough both on and off the course for Kirk, who opened up about his battle with alcoholism in 2019. Since then he’s found his golf game again, winning a Korn Ferry Tour event in 2020 and collecting eight top-16 finishes on the PGA Tour in 2021. Perhaps 2022 is the year he ends what is now a six-plus-year victory drought. —C.P.

85. Lanto Griffin

Age: 33 / owgr: 111 / '22 fedex cup: 42.

We haven't fully checked the record books, but it seems likely that Griffin is the one-and-only PGA Tour winner to be named by his hippie parents after a spiritual master (in this case, "Lord Lanto, a Chohan of the Second Ray of Illumination"). It took him years to reach the PGA Tour, but a win at the 2019 Houston Open gave him serious traction, and after holding on to the top 100 last season, he's off to a big start with two top-10s in the fall. And fun fact: Thanks to those hippie parents, Griffin has never eaten red meat. —S.R.

MORE: Lanto Griffin—from broke to the PGA Tour in five months

84. Matt Kuchar

Age: 43 / owgr: 116 / ’22 fedex cup: 91.

One of the game’s top earners for more than a decade, Kuchar has cooled down with only one top-10 in each of the past two seasons. The nine-time tour winner was always able to get around a lack of distance, but that’s getting harder to do these days—especially with an eroding iron game. Kuchar ranked 108th and 98th in SG/approach the past two seasons, and is currently 184th. —A.M.

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Alex Goodlett

MORE: Even Matt Kuchar is chasing speed with his swing

83. Bubba Watson

Age: 43 / owgr: 85 / ’22 fedex cup: nr.

Because he remains one of the longest hitters, and because he can create shots, and because he puts himself out there with genuine emotion, Watson still is a compelling and competitive presence on the PGA Tour. To return to legitimate threat, the lithe left-hander needs to shake off that middle-aged putting stroke, because being 149th in SG/putting (minus-.210) last season nullified an encouraging 36th position in SG/tee to green (plus-.751)—which explains his paltry 3.59 birdie average. And though he had just five top-10 finishes in 22 events, he only missed four cuts (plus one WD), and he qualified for the playoffs for the 15th time, one of just six players with perfect attendance in the FedEx Cup era. Watson and longtime caddie Ted Scott have split amicably, but maybe a new voice will get him to a 13th career win. —D.S.

MORE: In new book, Bubba opens up about the struggles he kept to himself

82. Adam Long

Age: 29 / owgr: 143 / ’22 fedex cup: 36.

Started this wrap-around season with four straight top-25 finishes to set himself up nicely in the FedEx Cup race. Don’t let the name fool you—he ranked only 88th in driving distance last season. —D.R.

81. Jhonattan Vegas

Age: 37 / owgr: 82 / ’22 fedex cup: 56.

Vegas enjoyed a career revival in 2020-21 thanks to three runner-up finishes, a performance he carried over into the fall (fifth in SG/off-the-tee, 17th in SG/tee-to-green). That this is a Presidents Cup year should provide extra incentive for Vegas. The International team has depth for the first time in, well, forever, yet most of those names are young and unproven. Vegas—who won his singles match at the 2017 Presidents Cup—will be 38 when the biennial match kicks off at Quail Hollow, and would give captain Trevor Immelman a steady, likeable veteran presence on the squad. —J.B.

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Mike Ehrmann

80. Pat Perez

Age: 45 / owgr: 280 / ’22 fedex cup: 192.

Perez has historically used the fall to jumpstart his seasons, but this autumn was none too kind (five starts, three missed cuts, a WD and a T-44). Turning 46 in March, it’s fair to wonder how much gas Perez has left in the tank. Yet the man has been a model of consistency, missing the playoffs just once in its 15-year existence … and that once was due to an injury that sidelined him for seven months in 2016. The 2021 super season was another solid campaign for Perez, making the cut in 21 of 32 starts and finishing 53rd in strokes gained. He’ll need the West Coast Swing to right his wrongs, but it’s a safe bet to see Perez once again come playoff time. —J.B.

79. Emiliano Grillo

Age: 29 / owgr: 92 / ’22 fedex cup: 114.

Sometimes, the PGA Tour rookie of the year award is a harbinger of greatness. For Grillo, the 2016 winner, it hasn’t quite turned out that way, though he remains a terrific ball-striker who’s seen success in weaker-field events. —D.R.

78. Joel Dahmen

Age: 34 / owgr: 93 / ’22 fedex cup: 46.

A season with three top-10s doesn’t sound all that great, except that when one of them is your first PGA Tour win in your 12th year as a professional, it’s everything. So Dahmen, winner in the Dominican Republic, has that going for him, which is … well, you know … nice. One of the shorter drivers of the ball, Dahmen has to do other things well. Hitting fairways is one where he did fine (ranked 22nd). Getting to the greens and then operating on them, not so much, and on that last item, the 34-year-old Washington native gave up way too much ground at 164th SG/putting (minus-.344). —D.S.

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Kevin C. Cox

MORE: How Joel Dahmen got his mind right before his first PGA Tour win

77. Lee Westwood

Age: 48 / owgr: 37 / ’22 fedex cup: nr.

Oh, what could have been in 2021 as Westwood played his way into the final pairing in back-to-back events (Bay Hill and the Players) before finishing runner-up in both. Sadly, reminiscent of his long list of close calls in majors throughout his career. Westy’s OWGR remains rather lofty based on those two finishes as well as winning the 2020 Race to Dubai title on the European Tour, but a T-21 as his best performance since March indicates he’s headed on a different trajectory now as he closes in on his 49th birthday in April. —A.M.

76. Cameron Young

Age: 24 / owgr: 135 / ’22 fedex cup: 26.

Search for Cameron Young on Wikipedia, and the first hit is a G-League NBA player; check the World Ranking, and Young is the fifth-most famous Cameron, after Smith, Tringale, Davis and Champ. And yet the Wake Forest grad is brimming with raw potential, and even more importantly, he's a winner: He earned his card on the strength of back-to-back wins on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, and though he ran hot-and-cold the rest of the season, he nearly won his second PGA Tour event at Sanderson Farms. The son of the head pro at Sleepy Hollow Country Club, Young is still untested, but he has a nose for trophies. —S.R.

MORE: 7 unsung heroes of the PGA Tour fall season

75. Sahith Theegala

Age: 24 / owgr: 382 / ’22 fedex cup: 85.

Theegala is not yet on the level of some of the other studs in his age group, but his appearance in this ranking is a prediction that he will be soon. He didn’t rewrite the Korn Ferry Tour history books in the 2020-21 season, but his consecutive top-six finishes in the final two KFT Finals events saw him earn his PGA Tour card for the 2021-22 season. There will be growing pains, no doubt, but we’re betting on the crazy-talented 24-year-old from Pepperdine to introduce himself to the casual golf fan in a big way in 2022. —C.P.

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Sam Greenwood

74. Cameron Davis

Age: 26 / owgr: 78 / ’22 fedex cup: 151.

The Aussie has been trying to live up to the promise he showed in capturing the 2017 Australian Open, beating the likes of Jordan Spieth and Jason Day. Davis finally delivered on the Fourth of July by outlasting Troy Merritt in a five-hole playoff to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He also had a third in The American Express, but posted only one other top-10. Davis is a big hitter (19th in driving distance), but not strong with the irons (120th in GIR). —T.L.

73. Tom Hoge

Age: 32 / owgr: 110 / ’22 fedex cup: 27.

An established regular on tour, Hoge has moved beyond “No, what is it?” status. That’s the reply Tiger Woods gave in 2015 when he was asked if he would recognize Tom Hoge, who would be his playing partner the next day at the Wyndham (presumably Tiger thought the inquisitor was referring to a sandwich of some sort). Hoge will likely make some 30 starts and make around as many cuts as he misses, relying on hot stretches with his below-average putter that occasionally bump him into contention. —B.P.

72. Matt Wallace

Age: 31 / owgr: 80 / ’22 fedex cup: 48.

Wallace had five top-10 finishes across the PGA Tour and DP World Tour in 2021, including a T-4 at the Zozo Championship in the fall. He held a share of the 54-hole lead at the Valero Texas Open, falling short to Jordan Spieth despite Wallace putting on a ball-striking clinic, gaining 15.3 strokes to the field tee-to-green. — S.H.

71. Ian Poulter

Age: 45 / owgr: 57 / ’22 fedex cup: t-141.

The Brit turns 46 on Jan. 10 and with no Ryder Cup to aim for in 2022, the question is what kind of motivation does he have. To wit, he missed three cuts in four tour starts after Whistling Straits last fall. The most cuts he’s missed in any season on tour since 2005 is four. That said, he has posted 39 top-10s in 92 tour starts from 2017-21. —R.H.

70. Harold Varner III

Age: 31 / owgr: 95 / ’22 fedex cup: 64.

There might not be any player on tour who more of his peers are pulling for to get that first win than Varner, the North Carolina native is that well liked. But the journey to win No. 1 continues to have its rocky moments as Varner struggles to sustain momentum after posting solid first rounds. The good news? In 2021, he had a career-best 10 top-25s, along with his first top-three finish (T-2 at Harbour Town). And as a new dad to baby Liam, there’s some new incentive to succeed in 2022. —R.H.

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MORE: The most absurdly funny screenshots from an absurdly funny year in golf

69. Charley Hoffman

Age: 45 / owgr: 76 / ’22 fedex cup: 92.

Entering his 17th year on tour, Hoffman has been a model of consistency—keeping his card every year since 2006. The San Diego native had five top-10s last season, including a runner-up at the Valero Texas Open (where he closed with rounds of 66-65-66) and a third-place finish at Colonial, adding to an impressive résumé in the Lone Star State: 14 career top-10 finishes and 30 top-25s. —S.H.

68. Alex Noren

Age: 39 / owgr: 71 / ’22 fedex cup: 126.

After getting hot in the playoffs and nearly making it to Atlanta, 2021 was a rebound season of sorts for Noren, who once ascended into the top 10 in the world and made a Ryder Cup team. Noren’s majors record is rather underwhelming after 30 career starts, and his tee-to-green deficiencies relative to the modern elite players will continue to make breakthroughs at many of those setups a challenge. — B.P.

67. Cameron Champ

Age: 26 / owgr: 83 / ’22 fedex cup: nr.

We don’t yet know what Champ’s season is going to look like because a wrist injury forced him to shut things down after just one start in October. He must be hugely disappointed, considering Champ—who was third on the tour in driving distance (317 yards)—won for the third straight year in July at the 3M Open. It’s the putter that holds Champ back from contending more; he was 188th in SG/putting in 2020-21. —T.L.

66. Keith Mitchell

Age: 29 / owgr: 89 / ’ 22 fedex cup: 31.

Mitchell owns one of the more impressive non-major wins in recent memory, defeating both Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler by one stroke at the 2019 Honda Classic. He hasn’t followed it with another trophy, but a trio of recent top-five finishes (Wells Fargo, 3M Open, CJ Cup) would lead one to believe that the former Georgia Bulldog isn’t likely to be just a one-win wonder. —C.P.

65. Keegan Bradley

Age: 35 / owgr: 86 / ’22 fedex cup: 84.

The peak of Bradley's career so far came in 2012, when he came into the Ryder Cup as a major champion and teamed with Phil Mickelson to electrify the Chicago crowds for the first two days. He's only 35, but the fall from those heights was definitive, and he's only managed a single win since. Still, he hasn't gone away, and on the strength of four top-10s last season, he put himself in position to make the Tour Championship and prove that even though that initial surge to stardom was part mirage, he's still a very good professional golfer. —S.R.

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64. Garrick Higgo

Age: 22 / owgr: 61 / ’22 fedex cup: 160.

The talented South African has been piling up wins at an impressive rate, no matter what tour he plays on. After winning on the European Tour in back-to-back months, Higgo captured his first PGA Tour title at Congaree in June, just weeks after turning 22. He enters 2022 outside the top 50 in the OWGR, but it doesn’t appear like he’ll stay there for long. —A.M.

63. Branden Grace

Age: 33 / owgr: 70 / ’ 22 fedex cup: 105.

There is a reason that Grace’s best SG stat is around the greens: He doesn’t hit many of them, averaging just 64.47 percent last season (144th on tour). But when he does have a week like he did at the Puerto Rico Open, where he was T-3 in the field after finding 57 of 72 (79.2 percent), the South African veteran does OK. In fact, he won his second tour title there and first anywhere in five years. Hey, that was one more win than countryman Louis Oosthuizen, the hard-luck loser of 2021 majors. Grace posted three other top-seven finishes, including runner-up at the Wyndham. He tends to make the most of his opportunities. —D.S.

62. Kevin Streelman

Age: 43 / owgr: 77 / ’22 fedex cup: 128.

Not someone you’d stop to watch on the driving range, but he’s kept his tour card for 15 years and has made more than $23 million. Picked up his first major top-10 in 26 tries at the PGA Championship at Kiawah. —D.R.

MORE: Kevin Streelman was the other underdog at the 2021 PGA

61. Aaron Wise

Age: 25 / owgr: 64 / ’22 fedex cup: 22.

The rookie of the year in 2018 went sideways in his second and third years on tour but bounced back in a big way during 2020-21, racking up nine top-25 finishes on his way to reaching the second stage of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Wise carried that fine display to the fall with three top-15s in five starts thanks to a stout tee-to-green game. If he can tighten up his short game (no better than 132nd in SG/putting the past three seasons) the former NCAA champ could be on the precipice of a breakout campaign. —J.B.

60. Rickie Fowler

Age: 33 / owgr: 87 / ’22 fedex cup: 43.

The 2021 super season was a super nightmare for Fowler. He had just one top-10 against nine missed cuts in 24 starts, failed to qualify for the Masters and U.S. Open, and he did not make the postseason for the first time in his career. But Fowler did contend in the fall at the CJ Cup in Vegas, ultimately coming in T-3 (his first top-three finish since the 2019 Honda Classic) to show the obituaries are premature. To keep the momentum going into 2022, Fowler will need to shore up his short game. Historically one of the better putters on tour (even ranking first in SG/putting in 2017), Fowler fell to 126th in the category last season. —J.B.

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Gregory Shamus

59. Brian Harman

Age: 26 / owgr: 59 / ’22 fedex cup: 189.

Somewhat limited due to his lack of length but Harman makes a boatload of cuts. Manages his game extremely well and ranked inside the top 30 in both SG/putting and around the green in 2020-21. —D.R.

58. Ryan Palmer

Age: 45 / owgr: 47 / ’ 22 fedex cup: 108.

In the long history of great Texas golfers, Palmer wouldn’t garner much attention, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been a very good player for a very long time. The four-time tour winner is sinewy strong, averaging 304.6 yards off the tee last season (38th) while ranking 49th in SG/off the tee. That will keep you relevant. He remains a decent putter (89th SG), also helpful. The only category where he lost strokes was around the greens. —D.S.

57. K.H. Lee

Age: 30 / owgr: 63 / ’22 fedex cup: 66.

We’ll be rooting for the former “husky boy” to achieve his stated goal of becoming the “sexiest golfer in the world” in 2022, unless he already claimed that title in your view. In 2021, Lee captured his first tour win, triggering another run of firsts in the coming year, where he’ll start inside the top 100 for the first time in his career, play his rookie Masters and, potentially, earn a Presidents Cup bid. The next step is making his first cut at a major championship, where his record is markedly inexperienced and thin (four starts, four missed cuts). —B.P.

56. Seamus Power

Age: 34 / owgr: 73 / ’22 fedex cup: 25.

It sounds unbelievable, but prior to Power’s win at the Barbasol in July, only four players from the Republic of Ireland had won a PGA Tour event. That was the cherry on top of an incredible summer for Power, whose World Ranking skyrocketed from the 400s to top 70 on the strength of that win and six other top-20 finishes. At the RSM Classic, the final event of the fall, he posted a T-4, giving warning that his meteoric rise in the summer was a beginning, not an end. —S.R.

55. Cameron Tringale

Age: 34 / owgr: 51 / ’22 fedex cup: 13.

Even if you’re a casual golf-watcher, chances are you’ve seen Tringale’s name at the top of the leader board upwards of a million times over the last handful of seasons (he has 15 top-25s since November 2020). That has yet to translate into a win on the PGA Tour, but chances are if he continues to put himself in position to win he’ll get there sooner or later. —C.P.

MORE: You won’t believe how many tour pros have made $10M without winning

54. Stewart Cink

Age: 48 / owgr: 52 / ’22 fedex cup: 199.

Yes, Phil Mickelson rightfully grabbed the headlines by being the oldest major winner, but Cink notching two wins in a seven-month span, at 48, was arguably just as impressive. Remember, he won the Safeway Open by going 65-65 on the weekend and opened his title week in the Heritage with back-to-back 63s. For anybody, that’s playing your behind off. The iron play was fabulous, ranking Cink at 34th in SG/approach. He’s going to have to drive it better to be factor this year; in four events, he’s 104th in distance and 176th in accuracy. —T.L.

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Patrick Smith

53 . Harry Higgs

Age: 30 / owgr: 138 / ’22 fedex cup: 69.

A social-media darling, and for good reason, as Higgs brings character, humor and flavor to a tour with one too many mayo sandwiches. At 30, his career progression has been steady and stable, what we used to see as the norm in a prior era. He’s worked his way up with success, and wins, at each level, and 2021 came with a top-five finish in his first (and still only) major championship. —B.P.

52. Phil Mickelson

Age: 51 / owgr: 33 / ’22 fedex cup: 174.

What a glorious year for Lefty, who become the oldest major champion in golf history by outdueling major slayer Brooks Koepka at Kiawah Island. He also added four victories in six starts on the PGA Tour Champions in his first season, becoming just the second player to accomplish the feat, joining Jack Nicklaus. The question is whether the senior success and that major magic will translate into more consistency in regular PGA Tour starts, where he had just one other top-20 showing outside the PGA win in the 2020-21 season. — S.H.

MORE: 101 things that happened to Phil Mickelson in 2021

51. Russell Henley

Age: 32 / owgr: 55 / ’ 22 fedex cup: 38.

You think of Henley as older than 32 given the fact he’s already playing his 10th season. He’s been a consistent performer during that time, finishing inside the top 100 in the FedEx Cup ranking every year. Yet he’s only qualified for the Tour Championship twice (2014 and 2017) and hasn’t won since April 2017. So is Henley’s biological clock ticking? Perhaps. He’s learned to live with the fact he isn’t the longest player out there, but that means he needs to figure out a way to shore up his short game if he hopes to have more than a solid career. —R.H.

50. Sergio Garcia

Age: 41 / owgr: 45 / ’22 fedex cup: 73.

What’s left for Sergio, who has his major and his stellar Ryder Cup record and turns 42 on Jan. 9? In 2018 and 2020, he was outside the top 125 on the FedEx Cup points list, only to bounce back with solid seasons in 2019 and 2021. Interestingly, the Spaniard hasn’t shot a round over par on the PGA Tour since the first round of The Northern Trust in August. Ended the fall with a T-7 finish in Mexico, which certainly provides a positive vibe heading into the new year. —R.H.

49. Shane Lowry

Age: 34 / owgr: 44 / ’22 fedex cup: 203.

The 2019 Open champion had six worldwide top-10s in 2021, plus a T-12 in defending his title at The Open. The Irishman had several career-best finishes last year: at the PGA Championship (T-4), the Memorial (T-6), The Players (eighth) and the Masters (T-21). — S.H.

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Warren Little

48 . Justin Rose

Age: 41 / owgr: 42 / ’22 fedex cup: 103.

It’s been a disappointing past two-plus seasons for this former World No. 1. In 33 starts, Rose racked up just five top-10s with a T-3 at the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge being his best result. Still in tremendous physical shape (just check his Instagram feed), a final-round 65 at the RSM Classic in the last official round of 2021 to finish T-12 indicates he has more good golf left in him—even if it happens less frequently. —A.M.

47. Mito Pereira

Age: 26 / owgr: 98 / ’22 fedex cup: 21.

Still a mystery to most American fans, the Chilean could make a big splash in ’22 if his trajectory continues. The Texas Tech alum earned a battlefield promotion from the Korn Ferry Tour with three wins in 2021, including back-to-back victories in June. Since then, Pereira has three top-10s on the PGA Tour and finished just off the podium in the Olympics. The stellar iron player has already competed seven times for 2021-22 and has four top-30s and only one missed cut. —T.L.

46. Kevin Kisner

Age: 37 / owgr: 43 / ’22 fedex cup: 203.

“This ain’t no hobby” and “they give away a lot [of $$] for 20th,” two of Kisner’s famous quotes, seem to be opposing ideas, but they actually sum up his PGA Tour existence perfectly. Golf is not a hobby for Kisner (he’s among the 50 best in the world at it), but he knows his skills are limited to shorter, shot-maker’s golf courses. He pops at those spots, like Harbour Town, Sedgefield and Detroit Golf Club, then happily takes his T-23s in the events where distance matters greatly. He knows who he is and makes no apologies for it, making him a fan favorite. —C.P.

45. Maverick McNealy

Age: 26 / owgr: 68 / ’22 fedex cup: 12.

It's easy to fly under the radar when you're still looking for your first professional win, but McNealy was one of the more quietly impressive players on tour last year, rising from 166th in the World Ranking at the start of 2021 to 69th at the end. Second-place finishes at Pebble Beach and Napa are the highlights, and he became more consistent as the season went along, making seven straight cuts to reach the BMW Championship. At 26, it's clear that McNealy is beginning to enter his prime. —S.R.

44. Tommy Fleetwood

Age: 30 / owgr: 40 / ’22 fedex cup: 95.

Now in his 30s, Fleetwood doesn’t quite fit the “Young Gunz” category anymore, but he still has a lot of golf in front of him. That being said—and not to sound too much like Paul Azinger—it has to be disheartening that this five-time European Tour winner has yet to break through in the U.S. More alarming is the only time he came close last year ended with a Sunday 77 at Bay Hill. Already with a T-7 in Vegas and still one of the game’s best ball-strikers, we expect to see his name on more leader boards in 2022—even if it’s not all the way on top. —A.M.

43. Erik van Rooyen

Age: 31 / owgr: 66 / ’ 22 fedex cup: 138.

The South African enjoyed a rookie season that included a victory and a spot in the Tour Championship, thanks to consecutive top-five finishes in the Playoffs, so it stands to reason that expectations will be much higher in the coming year. He certainly has room for improvement, with a stat sheet that shows his best category was SG/putting (64th). Van Rooyen missed the cut in all three majors in which he competed and fell short of the weekend in 11 of 27 starts, so more consistency should be a stated goal in 2022. —D.S.

​​ 42. Lucas Herbert

Age: 26 / owgr: 41 / ’22 fedex cup: 9.

Secured his card through the Korn Ferry finals and promptly earned some job security by winning his third starts as a PGA Tour member in October at the Bermuda Championship. The Aussie has a great chance to make this year’s Presidents Cup team. —D.R.

41. Sebastian Munoz

Age: 28 / owgr: 60 / ’22 fedex cup: 19.

Munoz doesn’t do anything that particularly jumps out. In that same breath, the man possesses view weaknesses. See ball, hit ball, keep ball in play. It’s an equation that’s paid dividends: Thanks to a T-4 at the Zozo and a third at the RSM, Munoz begins 2022 inside the FedEx Cup top 20. Should he stay in the discussion for a trip to East Lake, it may be enough to snag a spot on the Presidents Cup team. To solidify his spot on the International squad, as well as make the jump into the next echelon of tour players, Munoz needs to keep the bigger numbers at bay: He ranked 131st in bogey avoidance last season. Improving his putting from inside 10 feet (111th in the category last year) will go ways towards that goal. —J.B.

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Tom Pennington

40. Adam Scott

Age: 41 / owgr: 46 / ’22 fedex cup: 62.

Scott has advanced to the Tour Championship just twice in the last seven seasons. Part of that stems from his penchant for playing a light schedule (he’s only played more than 20 events once in his career), yet his performance in those limited appearances, while good, has trended the wrong direction with age. Nevertheless, Scott did post a T-5 at the CJ Cup in the fall, and a golfer’s 40s are no longer the purgatory they once were on tour. With the Presidents Cup on tap this year, don’t be surprised if we see a revival from the former Masters champ. —J.B.

39. Si Woo Kim

Age: 26 / owgr: 53 / ’22 fedex cup: 44.

Hard to believe he’s still three-plus years from 30. Hasn’t quite delivered on the top-10 potential he flashed in winning the 2018 Players at 21, but he’s got three wins and is coming off his most consistent season yet. —D.R.

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38. Mackenzie Hughes

Age: 31 / owgr: 39 / ’ 22 fedex cup: 11.

A strong fall campaign, highlighted by a T-4 at the Zozo and second at the RSM, augers well for the Canadian veteran. Hughes did just enough during the 2020-21 campaign to make it to the BMW Championship despite losing more than half a stroke to the field in SG/total. Four top-10s, including T-6 at The Open, and adding a T-15 finish at the U.S. Open sure helped. His relative lack of power always will make things challenging, but the last few years Hughes has gotten the putting-for-dough thing nailed down (including 15th in SG, ninth in total putting last season). —D.S.

37. Matt Fitzpatrick

Age: 27 / owgr: 24 / ’22 fedex cup: 154.

The Brit has made a steady climb up the OWGR despite not winning yet on the PGA Tour. Already a seven-time champ in Europe, however, he clearly has what it takes to close out golf tournaments—especially those played in difficult scoring conditions. “I’d love to tick that off,” Fitzpatrick told Today’s Golfer in October. “But I’m not a rookie anymore. I’m 27. In my own mind, I know I’ve got to start competing in the big events so my name is up at the top of the leader board more often.” We couldn’t agree more, Matt. —A.M.

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36. Paul Casey

Age: 44 / owgr: 27 / ’22 fedex cup: 152.

The veteran Brit must have discovered the fountain of youth, and we're not saying that just because of his boyish face. Firmly in his mid-40s, he made 18 of 20 cuts on tour last season, posted seven top-10s, made yet another Ryder Cup, and is the oldest man inside the world top 30. His consistency is a marvel, and so is his approach game—in 2020-21, only Morikawa was better on SG/approach. —S.R.

35. Webb Simpson

Age: 36 / owgr: 28 / ’22 fedex cup: 54.

In comparison to 2018, 2019 and 2020, when Simpson enjoyed a career resurgence after going five-plus years without a win, 2021 was a down season for the former U.S. Open champ. And yet, he still had five finishes of T-9 or better in 21 starts, three of them coming at three of his favorite tour courses—Harbour Town (RBC Heritage), Sedgefield (Wyndham) and Sea Island (RSM Classic). You can pencil him in for top-10s at those stops again in 2022, and we should expect much more from this prolific winner who still has plenty of good golf left in him. —C.P.

34. Matthew Wolff

Age: 22 / owgr: 30 / ’22 fedex cup: 7.

He’s so young, but this still seems like a critical season for Wolff. Will he better handle the pressure that came with his early success and then sidelined him for a mental-health break in ’21? The early returns are positive, with Wolff finishing second, T-5 and T-11 among his first four starts of the 2021-22 season. The putter has been a huge strength (12th thus far in SG), and he’s fourth in SG overall. That’s impressive for a guy who was fourth in driving distance last year (315.9), though he needs to keep it more on the short stuff; Wolff was 189th in accuracy. —T.L.

MORE: Matthew Wolff details depths of his mental health struggles

33. Corey Conners

Age: 29 / owgr: 38 / ’22 fedex cup: 87.

Your favorite flusher’s favorite flusher became the trendy description of Conners in 2021, a breakout year for him with multiple appearances on major championship leader boards and a trip to Atlanta for the Tour Championship. If we’re judging just based on tee to green, he could have been argued as a top-10 player in the world. What happens around and on the green makes it a bit more adventurous, but he’s too skilled in all-too-important areas of the game to not expect a bucket of more top 10s and a likely Presidents Cup spot representing Canada in 2022. —B.P.

32. Carlos Ortiz

Age: 30 / owgr: 54 / ’22 fedex cup: 16.

Ortiz edged a crowded leader board to earn his first PGA Tour title at the 2020 Houston Open, becoming the first winner from Mexico since 1978 (Victor Regalado). He contended for a third straight year at Mayakoba in his home country but finished four strokes behind winner Viktor Hovland. — S.H.

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31. Tyrrell Hatton

Age: 30 / owgr: 22 / ’22 fedex cup: 125.

The Englishman would likely place higher on this list if European Tour results weighed heavier: He won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and finished runner-up at the Alfred Dunhill Links in 2021. But Hatton had just one individual top-10 on the PGA Tour last year, a runner-up at Congaree. — S.H.

30. Billy Horschel

Age: 35 / owgr: 23 / ’22 fedex cup: 167.

Has some ground to make up in the FedEx Cup standings after playing just one PGA Tour event in the fall (T-33 at Mayakoba) while moonlighting on the European Tour. Still, he’s finished outside the top 50 only one since 2012 so there’s not much reasons to sweat it. A victory in the BMW Championship at Wentworth in September after a win at the WGC-Dell Match Play in March suggests Horschel has the game to win big events. But that record in majors—one top-15 finish and just two top-20s in 31 starts as a pro—is something that he would like to remedy. —R.H.

29. Talor Gooch

Age: 30 / owgr: 32 / ’ 22 fedex cup: 1.

There was no hotter player on the tour this fall than the former Oklahoma State golfer. He carded five top-11 finishes in six starts including an “at last” breakout win at the RSM Classic to jump top the FedEx Cup ranking entering 2022. And this all happened despite ranking 149th in SG/off the tee (-.124). That’s been typical of Gooch in his four years on tour; he has never ranked better than 107th and always finished with a negative number. If he could shore up his driving, he has an iron game that will get him to the Tour Championship for the first time in his career. —R.H.

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Cliff Hawkins

MORE: Talor Gooch finishes excellent fall with breakthrough win

28. Marc Leishman

Age: 38 / owgr: 36 / ’22 fedex cup: 18.

Leishman bats it around as well as anyone on tour, and while he may have been inconsistent week-to-week last year, the year-over-year results speak for themselves. He’s got five wins in the last five years and finished inside the top 30 of the OWGR in five of the last six. He’s a reliable, professional golfer with a couple top five finishes already in the fall portion of the season. —B.P.

27. Louis Oosthuizen

Age: 39 / owgr: 11 / ’22 fedex cup: 117.

The South African is coming off a tremendous campaign, but there’s the nagging feeling that he missed out on something truly special. Oosthuizen tied for second in the PGA Championship and then held the Sunday back-nine lead in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines before succumbing to Jon Rahm’s charge. He also had a T-3 in The Open. Oosthuizen is the consummate “putt for dough” player—ranking No. 1 in SG/putting in ’21 while being 101st off the tee. —T.L.

MORE: Louis Oothuizen is not wondering ‘what if’ about major misses

26. Max Homa

Age: 31 / owgr: 35 / ’22 fedex cup: 6.

Homa, once a Korn Ferry Tour grinder who struggled his first few seasons on the PGA Tour, has come into his own in his late 20s and early 30s. He’s now a certified winner, with three victories between 2019 and 2021, two of them in big-time events (Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow, Genesis at Riviera). No longer just the funny golfer on Twitter, Homa now lets his clubs do the talking, though he’s still pretty hilarious when he logs on to the bird app. —C.P.

25. Joaquin Niemann

Age: 23 / owgr: 31 / ’22 fedex cup: 55.

Plainly put, it's time for Niemann to win again. In the last calendar year, he's had six top-10s on tour, another in the Olympics, and came agonizingly close to winning his second career title at both the Sentry TOC and the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He lost in a playoff each time, but his World Ranking steadily improved throughout the year. Before a rocky finish to the fall, he had missed exactly one cut in 13 months, and even though he's still very, very young, he's ready to move from the upper echelons of the tour to the upper, upper echelons. —S.R.

24. Kevin Na

Age: 38 / owgr: 29 / ’22 fedex cup: 199.

Incredibly, this guy already has two decades of being a pro in the books. More amazing, though, is the fact he’s coming off the best season of his career. After winning just once in his first decade on tour, Na enters this year on a four-season winning streak. And after entering his name into the Ryder Cup conversation, perhaps he’ll finally get to wear the red, white and blue at this year’s Presidents Cup. —A.M.

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23. Patrick Reed

Age: 31 / owgr: 25 / ’22 fedex cup: 29.

After winning his ninth tour title in January at the Farmers Insurance Open and occupying the top 10 in the World Ranking for the first half of 2021, Reed was hardly a factor the rest of the season. The falloff, and an untimely illness that landed him in the hospital, cost the so-called “Captain America” a spot on the record-setting U.S. Ryder Cup team. The guy’s short game and putting (seventh in SG/around the green, fourth in SG/putting) still prove to be lethal, but it’s right to wonder how long the former Masters winner can stay among the top Americans while his greens in regulation figures continue to deteriorate. —D.S.

MORE: Patrick Reed confronts his image and his critics

​​ 22. Will Zalatoris

Age: 25 / owgr: 34 / ’22 fedex cup: 67.

Fell one shot short of becoming the first since 1979 to win his first Masters appearance and holds the rare distinction of winning rookie of the year despite not being a full member of the PGA Tour. Now in his first FedEx Cup-eligible season, he’ll be keen to back up his breakout season with a first tour victory. —D.R.

21. Sungjae Im

Age: 23 / owgr: 26 / ’22 fedex cup: 3.

It’s frankly amazing that Im has logged more than 100 starts on tour … and he doesn’t turn 24 until March. A strong start in the fall (highlighted by a win at the Shriners followed by a T-9 at the CJ Cup) has Im poised for another stellar season. Despite his youth there’s little to nitpick with his game; the next step for Im would be for a bit more consistency at the big events—following a runner-up at the 2020 Masters, he failed to crack the top 15 at the majors or Players in 2021—but, again, he’s just 23. He seems odd to earmark Im as a potential breakout candidate given his success, yet with the Presidents Cup on tap along with some major venues that fit his game (cough, cough Southern Hills), the fledgling star is not far from gaining full-blown leading-man status in the sport. —J.B.

MORE: Sungjae Im (aka the Birdie Machine) was the perfect fit to win in Las Vegas

20. Abraham Ancer

Age: 30 / owgr: 17 / ’22 fedex cup: 63.

He has a lone win to his name. Don’t let that fool you; this cat can ball. Ancer is coming off a career year, finishing the regular season sixth in the FedEx Cup and ranking 12th in scoring and 15th in strokes gained. The output is especially impressive considering Ancer is one of the shortest hitters on tour (157th in distance), although he more than compensates by hitting more fairways than a John Deere (fifth in accuracy). It is fair to wonder if the lack of pop has held him back at majors, with just one top-10 finish in 11 starts; conversely, it could also just be a matter of reps, and his second-shot prowess (23rd in approach), ability to rack up red figures (20th in birdies) while keeping the big numbers off the card (fifth in bogey avoidance) should make him a formidable figure at one of golf’s big four … and soon. —J.B.

19. Cameron Smith

Age: 28 / owgr: 21 / ’22 fedex cup: 33.

The Aussie flashes one of best short games on tour, even if he’s still prone to a foul ball off the tee, like the one that sealed a playoff loss to Tony Finau at The Northern Trust. Cruised into the Tour Championship on the strength of perhaps his best year as a professional. —D.R.

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Stacy Revere

18. Harris English

Age: 32 / owgr: 12 / ’22 fedex cup: nr.

Dismissing his dismal fall performance (two missed cuts and a WD), English enjoyed his best year in 2021 with a pair of wins and a fourth-place finish in the FedEx Cup regular-season standings. He rose to a career-best 10th in the World Ranking. At 32, he’s in the prime of his career, and the Georgia native has shown he knows how to score—and win—despite stats that don’t necessarily impress. He’ll go as far as his putter (12th SG/putting) takes him. —D.S.

17. Daniel Berger

Age: 28 / owgr: 19 / ’22 fedex cup: nr.

The man who won the first event of the COVID restart in 2020 added another victory at Pebble Beach in 2021 to make that four in his PGA Tour career. Berger also had a pair of top-10s in majors and played (well) in his first Ryder Cup after being one of Steve Stricker’s captain’s picks. Interesting didn’t make a start in the fall season. It’s unlikely he’ll ever reach the level or status of fellow Class of 2011 stars Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, but being the third wheel among that group isn’t too shabby. —A.M.

16. Jason Kokrak

Age: 36 / owgr: 20 / ’22 fedex cup: 8.

A victory at the Houston Open in the fall gave the big-hitting, 6-foot-4 Ohio native his third title in a 13-month span, adding to wins at Colonial (2021) and Shadow Creek (2020)—after going winless in his first 232 starts on the PGA Tour. The biggest difference-maker for the 36-year-old? His putting. Kokrak ranked sixth last season in strokes gained/putting. Compare that to his ranks in the previous five seasons: 151st; 103rd; 110th; 175th; 154th. — S.H.

15. Hideki Matsuyama

Age: 29 / owgr: 18 / ’22 fedex cup: 4.

As the game of golf gets increasingly global, there are fewer barriers to break, but Matsuyama shattered two huge ones when he became the first Asian-born golfer to win the Masters, and the first Japanese man to win a major. The rest of his season was decidedly average, which is understandable, but with a fall win at home at the Zozo Championship, he's riding into 2022 with major momentum. We could be looking at another career year. —S.R.

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Atsushi Tomura

14. Jordan Spieth

Age: 28 / owgr: 14 / ’22 fedex cup: 141.

The former World No. 1 finally ended his post 2017 Open Championship “slump” in April, winning the Valero Texas Open just one week before the Masters. A T-7 at Augusta, plus a solo second later in the summer at The Open, served as definitive proof he was all the way back. A fourth major title will effectively silence any doubters left, and the 2022 majors schedule, which includes two of his favorite haunts (Augusta, St. Andrews), sets up quite nicely for him to check off that box. —C.P.

13. Tony Finau

Age: 32 / owgr: 15 / ’22 fedex cup: 169.

Finau shook off the King Kong-sized gorilla on his back when he gutted out a playoff win in August’s Northern Trust to win for the first time in 142 starts. He had eight runners-up in that span, and at least we don’t have to hear the laments that he can’t close. A slow starter, Finau ranked 116th in first-round scoring average (70.92) in ’21, but he was a Friday monster, averaging 68.60 (second). —T.L.

12. Brooks Koepka

Age: 31 / owgr: 16 / ’22 fedex cup: 172.

He remains golf’s best big-game hunter on the men’s side, with three more finishes T6 or better at the majors in 2021. An MC at the first, The Masters, came largely due to a knee injury he probably should not have been playing on yet. Given he admitted early last year that there were dark times rehabbing and his knee may never be 100 percent, injuries will continue to be a concern in 2022. But set aside the season-long numbers or holistic rankings, he’s the best at performing when it matters most and we’d need to see a year of total flops for that title to change. —B.P.

MORE: Brooks Koepka doesn’t hold back in our poolside interview

11. Scottie Scheffler

Age: 25 / owgr: 13 / ’22 fedex cup: 14.

An impressive Sunday singles victory over Jon Rahm at the Ryder Cup built Scheffler more equity as he tries to grab what feels inevitable—a first win on the PGA Tour. But the longer it takes, the trickier it will be fending off questions of why it hasn’t happened yet. Let’s just remember, the guy is only 25 and he’s already had 17 top-10 finishes in just 57 starts. He had two top-five finishes in the fall despite not ranking in the top 50 in any major strokes-gained category. When his game gets in gear at some point this spring, it’s hard not to think the inevitable comes to pass. —R.H.

10. Sam Burns

Age: 25 / owgr: 10 / ’22 fedex cup: 2.

The former college POY at LSU in 2017 had a breakout year in 2021, winning his first two career titles and holding the lead after the most rounds of any player on tour. After starting the year 154th in the World Ranking, he finished 11th, the biggest jump of any player in the top 50. Burns leads the tour at the winter break in SG/tee-to-green after being ninth in SG/putting in 2020-21, showcasing the versatility within his game. Just missed making the U.S. Ryder Cup team, but we have to think he’s a likely candidate for Davis Love III’s Presidents Cup squad. —R.H.

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9. Dustin Johnson

Age: 37 / owgr: 3 / ’22 fedex cup: 194.

Spring 2021 was not kind to the 2020 Masters champ—DJ had just one top-10 finish from February through June. But the 24-time PGA Tour winner had top-10s in four of his final six starts of the season and then punctuated his 2021 with a flawless 5-0 performance at the Ryder Cup. If DJ wins this season (which we’d expect to happen), he’d have a victory in his first 15 seasons on tour. Only Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer boast a higher total (17). —S.H.

8. Bryson DeChambeau

Age: 28 / owgr: 5 / ’22 fedex cup: nr.

PIP metrics and trophies aside, he is arguably the tour’s top superstar (non-Tiger category) thanks to a swarm of curiosity and tumult that extends to a larger audience outside the golf corner of the world. He once again led the tour in driving distance and drama in 2021. His all-gas, no-brake focus on the tee ball has yielded resounding results in its first couple years. He led the tour in SG/off-the-tee again in 2021, and the difference between his average and second place was the same as second all the way to 18th. Given the offseason social-media videos replete with speed training, expect the same in 2022. —B.P.

MORE: Bryson vs Brooks feud dominated golf chatter but was it good for the game?

7. Xander Schauffele

Age: 28 / owgr: 5 / ’22 fedex cup: 112.

The Olympic gold medal and a stellar first appearance in the Ryder Cup certainly defined a memorable season for Schauffle, but there’s more work to be done. Namely, to get that first major win to salve the sting of six top-fives in the Big Four. For the second straight appearance, Schauffele contended deep into Masters Sunday, but was beaten by a hotter player. In trying to win for the first time since early 2019, he had seconds in the CJ Cup, Farmers and Phoenix, and he contended (T-7) in his home major, the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, despite a short-lived switch to an arm-lock putting grip. Few players on tour can match Schauffele’s consistent all-around attack. In 2020-21, he was 41st in SG/off-tee, 14th in approach and 16th in putting. —T.L.

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6. Viktor Hovland

Age: 24 / owgr: 7 / ’22 fedex cup: 5.

With three wins—plus an OWGR-counting victory at the Hero World Challenge—before age 25, the young Norwegian has seemingly already delivered on all the promise he displayed in winning the 2018 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. The one area that continues to hold him back, though, is chipping, which he once claimed he “sucked” at. Should he continue to make slight improvements around the greens, his ceiling is second only to Collin Morikawa among the tour’s rising stars. Oddsmakers tend to agree, as Hovland is +550 to win a major in 2022 on the DraftKings Sportsbook. —C.P.

5. Rory McIlroy

Age: 32 / owgr: 9 / ’22 fedex cup: 9.

Since 2014, the dominant strain of discourse around McIlroy has been when or if he'll win another major, and it will continue to be so forever, if necessary. The story is the same—his putting just isn't good enough, and to win majors as a below-average putter, you need to be an approach genius like Collin Morikawa, which Rory is not. Still, he's now won twice on tour in the last year, including his October win at the CJ Cup, his putting is improving, and maybe—maybe—he's ready to take the leap again. —S.R.

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4. Justin Thomas

Age: 28 / owgr: 8 / ’22 fedex cup: 32.

It was a strange 2021 for the American star, who found himself mired in controversy and in the first prolonged slump of his career. After losing his Ralph Lauren deal in January and winning the Players Championship in March, Thomas didn’t record another top 10 until the FedEx Cup Playoffs. But two top fives in those three events followed by another two at the Mayakoba and Hero indicate he’s got his game in better shape. And as we saw with his five-win campaign in 2016-2017, few are capable of going on bigger heaters. —A.M.

3. Patrick Cantlay

Age: 29 / owgr: 4 / ’22 fedex cup: nr.

After seeing his career derailed by a back injury for more than two years, Cantlay finally has assumed what many thought should be his rightful place among the elite of his age group by winning four times in the 2020-21 season, capturing the FedEx Cup and winning Player of the Year honors. He showed no real weaknesses in his game, ranking no worse than 30th in the key SG metrics and finishing third in SG/total. The only things left for the laconic California native is to add his name to the column of major winners and to rise to World No. 1, and who thinks he won’t eventually achieve those goals? —D.S.

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2. Collin Morikawa

Age: 24 / owgr: 2 / ’22 fedex cup: 15.

In the past year, he’s taken “The Leap” from great young player to perhaps the finest player on Earth. His record through 60 professional starts—six wins, two majors, 24 top 10s—has drawn some (unfair) Tiger comparisons; so has his habit of closing out tournaments with relentless, bogey-free rounds. Among a historically great group of 30 and younger Americans, he currently stands alone at the top. —D.R.

1. Jon Rahm

Age: 27 / owgr: 1 / ’22 fedex cup: nr.

The numbers are staggering. Fifteen top-10s versus one missed cut in 22 starts last season. Second in SG/off-the-tee, eighth in approach and first in SG/overall. First in birdie average AND bogey avoidance. Yet those numbers fail to illustrate the most impressive figure of all: the “1” that replaced “0” in Rahm’s major total, shedding the label of backdoor finisher by closing out the 2021 U.S. Open with vigor. Though Rahm technically had just one win to his name—if “just” can describe his breakthrough at Torrey Pines—he tied for the lowest score over four days at East Lake during the Tour Championship and held a six-stroke lead through 54 holes at the Memorial before a positive COVID-19 test knocked him out of the event, in the process solidifying his claim as the sport’s top dog. —J.B.

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Donald Miralle

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The Five: Can Rory McIlroy start strong, other pressing questions at Masters

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Rory McIlroy ahead of the 2024 Masters. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy ahead of the 2024 Masters. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

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It is said that whatever you think about last before going to bed is what you will dream about. It's why Xander Schauffele thinks about a Masters green jacket.

“As many dreams … as I can have wearing a green jacket or someone putting it on me on the 18th green, that's what I try and envision,” Schauffele said Monday.

Schauffele has come close. He finished runner-up to Tiger Woods in 2019, but Schauffele is still chasing that dream. It’s a universal feeling among those on the grounds at Augusta National. If you’re a professional golfer, you’ve most likely dreamed of a putt to win the Masters or contemplated what you’d put on your Champions Dinner menu. Schauffele is still waiting for a chance to play Augusta National with his dad, Stefan. Schauffele could likely make it happen, but his dad won’t allow it. Not yet.

“He told me a long time ago, ‘I'm only going to play when you're a member,’” Schauffele said.

Someone will realize those dreams this week. Schauffele is one of the favorites coming off a strong start to his season, highlighted by his T2 at THE PLAYERS Championship. But he isn’t one of our biggest storylines. That’s what The Five is dedicated to this week. As players refine their preparation before Thursday’s opening round, let’s take stock of what’s to come. The Five examines the must-follow storylines that set the stage for the year's first major championship.

1. Tiger Woods: Focus on the cut, not contention

When Tiger Woods tees it up on Thursday at the Masters, it will be just his third competitive round of 2024. If he finishes the round, it will be just his second completed round in an official PGA TOUR event since last year’s Masters.

It’s inarguable to say Woods can find magic at Augusta National. It’s also inarguable that Woods lacks the one thing he’s preached as necessary for much of his career: competitive reps. His only start of 2024 came at The Genesis Invitational in February, and he withdrew during his second round with flu-like symptoms.

So what will win out: experience or rust?

That sets up an exciting push-and-pull with history as its backdrop. Woods has made 23 consecutive cuts at the Masters, tied with Gary Player and Fred Couples for the longest streak in tournament history. He can take that record for himself this year.

“I think it's consistency, it's longevity and it's an understanding of how to play this golf course,” Woods said. “... And it means a lot.”

If there’s a place Woods can piece it together, it’s Augusta National. But to expect Woods to contend is difficult, particularly when some of the sport's other top stars are in top form. Woods’ fight to make the cut will still be plenty intriguing and realistic. Holding the consecutive cuts record at Augusta would be fitting for the man who owns the longest consecutive cuts made record on the PGA TOUR.

2. Is Scheffler’s putting fixed?

The saga that never ends. Scottie Scheffler enters the Masters as the heavy favorite to claim his second green jacket in three years. He put together a dominant month of March, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard and THE PLAYERS Championship. It looked like he had solved the putting woes that had plagued him from truly dominating the PGA TOUR over the last 24 months.

Then he pulled a 6-footer on the 72nd hole of the Texas Children’s Houston Open to miss a playoff and the possibility of his third consecutive win. Was it a simple misread? Or is it a sign that Scheffler still has some work to shore up the putter in the biggest moments? Remember, Scheffler famously four-putted on the final hole of the 2022 Masters, and the glassy greens of Augusta are no place to lose confidence in your flatstick.

It seems reductive to say the putting is the only thing that matters for Scheffler at Augusta, but he’s shown it to be true. His superb ball-striking has traveled to every event for the past two years. Whether Scheffler wins or loses falls solely on the one variable can’t seem to control: putting.

3. Approach play, fast start key to Rory McIlroy’s chances

Rory McIlroy’s quest for a Masters title is often considered a “matter of when.” Given his talent, stature and course fit, a green jacket is assumed to be inevitable. Yet the more years McIlroy leaves empty-handed, the more the pressure ramps up and the definitive proclamations begin to crack.

This Masters will be McIlroy’s 10th attempt at completing the career Grand Slam. This year also marks 10 years since his last major victory. McIlroy revealed it feels like he’s trying to win his first again. So as close as he’s come to achieving Masters glory, he’s in some ways no closer to it than when he made his debut at Augusta National in 2009.

But for all the consternation McIlroy has faced about his Masters shortcomings, it could all change in four days. To do it, McIlroy will need to improve his approach play, which has been his Achilles’ heel at Augusta National and for most of this season.

There were signs of life at last week’s Valero Texas Open. He finished third in Strokes Gained: Approach and notched his first top-10 on the PGA TOUR this season. That came a week after he sought advice from legendary swing coach Butch Harmon.

But it’s hard to say if that will continue this week. McIlroy has come to the Masters playing amazing and then missed the cut. He has nearly won the Masters after missing the cut the week prior.

The key will be his start. Over the last 10 years, McIlroy’s scoring average in the first and second rounds is 72.3. His weekend scoring average is 69.4, nearly three shots better.

Then there’s this stat: 36 of the last 37 Masters champions have been in the top 10 through two rounds, according to Justin Ray of Twenty First Group.

McIlroy starting slow is not an option. If McIlroy is finally going to get the monkey off his back , there will be signs. It starts with improved approach play and a fast start.

4. Best first-timers class since …

Every crop of Masters first-timers features a few studs. Last year showcased Tom Kim and Sahith Theegala alongside amateurs Sam Bennett and Gordon Sargent. The prior year included Sam Burns and Min Woo Lee.

I’d challenge someone to come up with a better first-timers class than this year’s, though. Among the players making their debut at the Masters are reigning U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark, Ludvig Åberg and Nicolai Højgaard – two European Ryder Cuppers – and two PGA TOUR winners under age 23 in Nick Dunlap and Akshay Bhatia.

One swing from every first timer in the 2024 Masters field

The headliners are Clark and Åberg, who enter the week at Nos. 4 and 9 in the world, respectively. Clark, the rare major champion who has not yet played Augusta, might have three wins this season if not for Scottie Scheffler. He finished runner-up to Scheffler in back-to-back weeks at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard and THE PLAYERS Championship. He won the rain-shortened AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He’s shown himself to be a big-game hunter and is arguably the second-best player in the world right now behind Scheffler. How he tackles Augusta National as a first-timer will be fascinating.

The context of Åberg’s debut might be even crazier. The 24-year-old played in a Ryder Cup, won PGA TOUR and DP World Tour events and cracked the top 10 in the world before playing a major championship. The Masters is not only his tournament debut but his major championship debut. His game is a fit at any course, Augusta National included, but this is a new stage for the Swede – who has handled everything else in his path.

Other first-timers include reigning PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Eric Cole, current-season winners Jake Knapp, Matthieu Pavon, Austin Eckroat and Stephan Jaeger and world No. 1 amateur Christo Lamprecht.

They will all be chasing rarified air. Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 was the last Masters rookie to win the green jacket. If there was going to be a year to do it, it might be someone from this class of first-timers.

5. How will the weather affect the course?

One of the marvels of golf architecture, Augusta National has not had the opportunity to flex its full strength on the field in recent years as rainy conditions have softened what can be a firm and fiery test.

Given early feedback from the ground, that could change this year. Reports indicate the course is as firm and fast as it has been in several years.

“I mean, I was hitting 5-irons that were coming into par 5s that were bouncing, tomahawking over the green, and I was like, ‘This is pretty cool.’ It's been a while,” Schauffele said Monday.

Whether it stays that way will be the question. Current forecasts estimate more than an inch of rain could fall on Thursday, though any precipitation seems largely isolated to just Thursday. With windy and dry conditions expected to come through the Augusta area following the rain, the hope for a firm and fiery test over the weekend is still a strong possibility.

What the weather will do remains to be seen, but players have their preferences on how they would like it to play.

“If the course is playing hard and fast, it's more difficult. Winning score is usually … higher,” 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama said. “When it's wet, I mean, it can go to 20-under. I like both, but if it goes to 20-under, my chances … get slimmer. So, I would like a tougher setup where it plays drier, fast and hard.”

Added reigning Open Championship winner Brian Harman: “I prefer it to be hot and windy. I feel like that gives me the best opportunity. When it's cold and wet, that's kind of a tough row to hoe for me.”

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2024 Masters odds, field: Surprising PGA picks, predictions from top-rated golf model that's nailed 10 majors

Sportsline's proven model simulated the masters 2024 10,000 times and revealed its pga golf picks for augusta national.

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Back surgery sidelined Will Zalatoris for nine months last year, causing him to miss all four majors. He returned in December and is part of the 2024 Masters field, much to the dismay of his fellow golf pros. Zalatoris has been as dominant in majors as one could be without a victory, with six top-10 finishes across his last nine starts. That includes three runners-up, including at the 2021 Masters, and he placed sixth in his other appearance at Augusta National. Zalatoris is on the short list of best players to never win a major championship, a list that includes Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, among others. Should any of these players factor into your 2024 Masters picks ahead of Thursday's opening 2024 Masters tee times?

Scottie Scheffler is the 13-4 favorite in the Masters 2024 odds, followed by Rory McIlroy (10-1) and Jon Rahm (12-1). Tiger Woods is going off at 100-1 odds to win. Before locking in any 2024 Masters picks of your own, entering picks on sites like DraftKings or FanDuel, or finalizing Masters props and Masters Pick Six entries, be sure to see the 2024 Masters golf predictions and projected leaderboard from the proven computer model at SportsLine .

SportsLine's proprietary model, built by DFS pro Mike McClure, has been red-hot since the PGA Tour resumed in June 2020. In fact, the model is up nearly $9,500 on its best bets since the restart, nailing tournament after tournament. McClure's model predicted Scottie Scheffler would finish on top of the leaderboard at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship this season. McClure also included Hideki Matsuyama in his best bets to win the 2024 Genesis Invitational. That bet hit at +9000, and for the entire tournament, McClure's best bets returned nearly $1,000. The model also predicted Jon Rahm would be victorious at the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions and The American Express. At the 2023 Masters, the model was all over Rahm's second career major victory heading into the weekend. Rahm was two strokes off the lead heading into the third round, but the model still projected him as the winner. It was the second straight Masters win for the model, which also nailed Scheffler winning in 2022. In addition, McClure's best bets included Nick Taylor (70-1) winning the 2023 RBC Canadian Open, Jason Day (17-1) winning outright at the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson, and Rickie Fowler (14-1) finishing on top of the leaderboard at the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic. This same model has also nailed a whopping 10 majors entering the weekend, including the past two Masters. Anyone who has followed it has seen massive returns.

Now that the Masters 2024 field finalized, SportsLine simulated the tournament 10,000 times, and the results were surprising. Head to SportsLine now to see the projected leaderboard.

Top 2024 Masters predictions 

One major surprise the model is calling for at the 2024 Masters: Rory McIlroy, a four-time major champion and one of the co-favorites, fails to complete the career grand slam and barely cracks the top five at Augusta National. We're coming upon a decade since McIlroy's last major win, and he has nearly twice as many missed cuts (seven) at majors over that span than top-three finishes (four). Two of those missed cuts have come over the Irishman's last three Augusta starts. McIlroy has broken par in just two of his last eight rounds at the Masters.

This year hasn't been promising to McIlroy's chances at Augusta, as he has just one top-10 finish against a softer field at the Texas Open. McIlroy's short game has been a catalyst for his struggles, as he ranks 124th in strokes gained: around-the-green and 78th in total putting. His scoring average (actual) on the PGA Tour ranks just 61st, so those metrics don't line up with the second-shortest odds. Thus, the model is avoiding McIlroy in 2024 Masters bets since it doesn't see much value with him at 10-1.

Another surprise: Jordan Spieth, a 20-1 longshot, makes a strong run at the title. He has a much better chance to win it all than his odds imply, so he's a target for anyone looking for a huge payday. Spieth's game fits Augusta National well and he has the results to prove it. Spieth won the Masters in 2015 in wire-to-wire fashion. He's also secured a top-four finish in six of his 10 starts at Augusta National, which includes a fourth-place showing in 2023. Spieth is coming off a 10th-place finish at last week's Valero Texas Open and enters the 2024 Masters as one of the most well-rounded golfers in the 2024 Masters field.

In fact, Spieth is currently ranked third in putting average (1.671), fifth in birdie average (4.88), eighth in strokes gained: total (1.203) and 23rd in total driving (135). If he's striking the ball well this week, he'll have a great shot at finishing on top of the leaderboard at the 2024 Masters.  See who else to pick here .

How to make 2024 Masters picks

The model is also targeting four other golfers with odds of 20-1 or longer to make a strong run at the green jacket. Anyone who backs these longshots could hit it big. You can only see the model's picks here .

Who will win the 2024 Masters, and which longshots will stun the golfing world? Check out the Masters 2024 odds below and then visit SportsLine to see the projected Masters leaderboard, all from the model that's nailed 10 golf majors, including last year's Masters and Open Championship .

2024 Masters odds, field

Full set of Masters picks, best bets, and predictions here.

Scottie Scheffler +325 Rory McIlroy +1000 Brooks Koepka +1100 Jon Rahm +1200 Wyndham Clark +1500 Xander Schauffele +1800 Will Zalatoris +2000 Hideki Matsuyama +2000 Jordan Spieth +2000 Viktor Hovland +2200 Ludvig Aberg +2500 Joaquin Niemann +2500 Cameron Smith +2800 Justin Thomas +2800 Patrick Cantlay +2800 Collin Morikawa +3000 Dustin Johnson +3300 Tony Finau +3500 Bryson DeChambeau +3500 Brian Harman +3500 Shane Lowry +4000 Max Homa +4000 Cameron Young +4000 Jason Day +4000 Matt Fitzpatrick +4000 Min Woo Lee +5000 Sam Burns +5000 Sahith Theegala +5000 Tommy Fleetwood +5500 Sergio Garcio +6000 Tyrrell Hatton +6000 Byeong-hun An +6500 Chris Kirk +7000 Tom Kim +7000 Russell Henley +7000 Patrick Reed +7000 Rickie Fowler +7500 Akshay Bhatia +7500 Corey Conners +7500 Sungjae Im +7500 Si Woo Kim +8000 Denny McCarthy +9000 Adam Scott +9000 Justin Rose +9000 Phil Mickelson +10000 Tiger Woods +10000 Stephen Jaeger +12500 Sepp Straka +12500 Nick Taylor +12500 Erik Van Rooyen +15000 Eric Cole +15000 Adrian Meronk +15000 Jake Knapp +15000 Keegan Bradley +15000 Matthieu Pavon +15000 Nicolai Hojgaard +15000 J.T. Poston +15000 Emiliano Grillo +15000 Harris English +15000 Thorbjörn Olesen +17500 Lucas Glover +17500 Luke List +17500 Adam Hadwin +17500 Taylor Moore +20000 Ryan Fox +20000 Kurt Kitayama +20000 Bubba Watson +20000 Nick Dunlap +20000 Peter Malnati +20000 Cam Davis +20000 Austin Eckroat +22500 Ryo Hisatsune +25000 Lee Hodges +27500 Adan Schenk +30000 Danny Willett +35000 Charl Schwartzel +35000 Gary Woodland +50000 Grayson Murray +50000 Camilo Villegas +50000 Zach Johnson +75000 Christo Lamprecht +75000 Fred Couples +100000 Mike Weir +100000 Neal Shipley +150000 Vijay Singh +150000 Stewart Hagestad +150000 Jasper Stubbs +200000 Jose Maria Olazabal +200000 Santiago de la Fuente +250000

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IMAGES

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  2. My Five: Best PGA Tour Courses

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