Father's Day Collection | T-Shirts, Hats, Polos, Crewnecks, Q-Zips and MoreSHOP NOW

Advertisement

PGA Championship Preview: Ranking The Top 50 Golfers In The Field At Valhalla, With Info On Every Player

Gary Kellner. Getty Images.

Another major championship is upon us, with the world's best descending upon Louisville, Kentucky for the PGA Championship at Valhalla. In the short period between the Masters and this week the PGA Tour has held two signature events and LIV's held two events of its own on the opposite end of the world. You don't have time to be 100% locked in every week to golf like I do. So I'm here to help—help you place some wagers, win an office pool or simply be a more informed viewer. Happy reading, and happy major week. 

50. Tiger Woods
Age: 48 Data Golf Ranking: N/A PGA Championship appearances: 22
Best PGA Championship finish: WIN, 2000, 2006, 2007

He can’t not be on the list, but there’s little evidence to suggest he’s ready to grind it out for four rounds against the world’s best. He’s made in an impressive four of five major starts since the accident but has completed 72 holes just twice, most recently at Augusta where he shot 82-77 on the weekend. His body simply won’t let him play enough tournaments to get into a rhythm and trying to go from long periods of not playing events to trying to beat Scottie Scheffler is no small task. Does have a win at Valhalla when he broke Bob May’s heart in 2000.

Advertisement

49. Chris Gotterup
Age: 24 Data Golf Ranking: 157 PGA Championship appearances: First

Former Nicklaus award winner at Oklahoma got his Tour card through the Korn Ferry last year and was having a pretty rough rookie season not long ago. His best finish in his first 11 starts was a T35, he sat outside the top 140 in points and the dreaded return to KFT loomed as a distinct possibility. His patience was surely tested during that stretch. Tested, then rewarded—he and Austin Eckroat finished T11 in the Zurich Classic, he took T24 at the Byron Nelson and then won last week’s opposite-field event in Myrtle Beach. Starting the day with a six-shot lead, he bogeyed the first two holes before going birdie-eagle-birdie on the next three. HIs quote after, chef’s kiss: “Kind of a crappy putt on the first hole and a really tough two-putt on the next. Then to bounce back the way I did, it’s just kind of how I roll.”

48. Keith Mitchell
Age: 32 Data Golf Ranking: 63 PGA Championship appearances: 4
Best PGA Championship finish: T34, 2022

The best dressed player on the PGA Tour and one of the better driver of the balls on the planet. He’s gained ground on the field off the tee in 13 consecutive starts and ranks sixth on tour in strokes gained off the tee and seventh tee-to-green. That’s why I like him on a big, beefy setup that will place a premium on driving the ball well. His issue is he’s been statistically one of the worst putters on tour this season. 

47. Alex Noren
Age: 41 Data Golf Ranking: 22 PGA Championship appearances: 11
Best PGA Championship finish: T22, 2020

Quietly trending. Hasn’t missed a cut this year and has seven top-25 finishes in 10 starts. North of 40 but still one of the hardest workers out there, he’s often the first guy on the range or the least to leave or, in dark moments, both. Hasn’t played the majors well in his career—he’s missed the weekend in seven of his last eight major starts. No real success in PGA Championships nor U.S. Opens to speak of. 

46. Matthieu Pavon
Age: 31 Data Golf Ranking: 54 PGA Championship appearances: First

A proper late bloomer. Left it until late last year to charge up the DP World Tour standings and closed their season-ender with four consecutive birdies to snag a PGA Tour card. Won at Torrey Pines in his third start as a member and took solo third at the signature AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am the next week. This is all new for him: the tournaments, the United States, the money, and he said on Fore Play that he feels like a kid in Disneyland. A very, very respectable T12 in his first Masters appearance. Who knows how long this run will last, but he’s soaking it in while it does. 

45. Jordan Spieth
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 37 PGA Championship appearances: 11
Best PGA Championship finish: 2, 2015

As a golf writer I feel contractually obligated to mention that he can complete the career Grand Slam this week. Though his legion of fans would be the first to tell you the game’s just not there at the moment. He’s just not the same iron player he was in his early 20s and continues to make far too many mistakes. A 79-74 to miss the cut at the Masters—he’s actually missed the cut in two of the last three years but also has six top-four Masters finishes, the perfect encapsulation of Spieth—felt like a new low and he’s gone T39/CUT/T24 in three starts since, and the T39 and T24 came in no-cut events. 

44. Harris English
Age: 34 Data Golf Ranking: 36 PGA Championship appearances: 7
Best PGA Championship finish: T19, 2020

All three of his major top-10 finishes have come at the U.S. Open, so he’s clearly comfortable on big-boy setups that put a premium on accuracy. Because he’s such a tall guy you might think of him as a bomber but his statistical profile tells the opposite story: it’s been his short game that has shined this year and, when he’s posted top finishes in majors, it’s almost always with a super hot putter. Does he have the firepower to win a major championship right now? Unlikely. Could he finish inside the top 10? Absolutely. 

43. Nicolai Hojgaard
Age: 23 Data Golf Ranking: 85 PGA Championship appearances: 2
Best PGA Championship finish: T50, 2023

Young Dane has missed the cut in four of last six starts but has some very impressive finishes in the last 12 months, including a win at the year-end DP World Tour Championship, a solo second at the Nedbank Golf Challenge and the Farmers Insurance Open and a T16 at the Masters. Took great confidence from getting a captain’s pick and contributing to the victorious European Ryder Cup team and started off his PGA Tour career the right way. Only natural for there to be some drop-off given he’s playing his first full year in the states and he’s just 23 years old. 

Advertisement

42. Tom Kim
Age: 21 Data Golf Ranking: 57 PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: CUT all 3 times

It was at this event last year that he frolicked in the mud and went viral for doing so. Won his third PGA Tour event at the age of 21 last fall but doesn’t have a finish better than T15 since. It’s a temporary blip on what will be a tremendous career and he’s still not 22 for another month. All that said, he’s in the negative in all six main strokes gained categories and has missed the cut in all three PGA Championship appearances. 

41. Dean Burmester
Age: 34 Data Golf Ranking: 38 PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: 54, 2019

Quite an interesting career arc. Played professionally since 2010 but didn’t win a tournament of note until 2017 on the DP World Tour. After another win in 2021 he decided to play in the Korn Ferry Tour finals where he successfully earned his tour card for the 2022-23 season, only to join LIV Golf in February 2023. Won back-to-back DP World Tour events in his native South Africa last winter, albeit against weaker-than-average fields. He’s played very well on LIV Golf this year with a win and two T3 finishes and received one of the seven PGA of America special invites for LIV players. 

40. Chris Kirk
Age: 38 Data Golf Ranking: 31 PGA Championship appearances: 10
Best PGA Championship finish: T5, 2022

Began the year in ideal fashion with a 5-iron from the gods to win at Kapalua. Solid if unspectacular since, he has just one top-10 finish (a T10 at the RBC Heritage) and comes in off a meh week in Charlotte. Having an excellent ball striking season thus far (sixth in strokes gained tee-to-green) and won’t beat himself with wild rounds or huge mistakes. Three top-30 finishes in his last five major starts. 

39. Billy Horschel
Age: 37 Data Golf Ranking: 40 PGA Championship appearances: 11
Best PGA Championship finish: T23, 2021

Reached his nadir last year at the Memorial where, in his title defense, he shot an 84 and broke down in tears in the post-round interview. He said on our show that moment was quite cathartic and he’s turned it around since with three top-12 finishes in March and a return to the winner’s circle at the Corales Puntacana Championship. The problem is the lack of consistency; interspersed in those strong finishes are three missed cuts and a poor week in the no-cut Wells Fargo Championship. There’s also this: he took T4 in his first-ever major as a pro but has failed to post a finish better than T17 in his 38 major starts since. 

38. Si Woo Kim
Age: 28 Data Golf Ranking: 21 PGA Championship appearances: 8
Best PGA Championship finish: T13, 2020

He’s always had the top-level gear to compete in big tournaments—you don’t win four times on Tour, including the Players Championship, without it—but he’s found a level of consistency this year that’s evaded him in the past. He ranks fourth on tour in strokes gained tee to green and 10 th in strokes gained overall, and that’s despite ranking 146th in driving distance. He hits a ton of fairways. All depends on the putter with him, but he’s never hit it better in his life. 

37. Adam Scott
Age: 43 Data Golf Ranking: 29 PGA Championship appearances: 23
Best PGA Championship finish: 3rd, 2006

Still has plenty of speed at age 43 and has no trouble being competitive in the biggest tournaments. Competitive being the key word rather than contending. Hie hasn’t had a chance to win a PGA Tour event in quite a while and doesn’t have a major top-10 finish since the 2019 U.S. Open. 

36. Taylor Pendrith
Age: 32 Data Golf Ranking: 70 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: T29, 2023

Won his first PGA Tour event at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson in dramatic fashion just a few weeks ago when Ben Kohles made a mess of the 72nd hole while he made birdie. Followed it up with a very solid showing at Quail Hollow and you wonder if that win in Texas could be a career-shifting boost in confidence. A very long-hitting Canadian who will now feel he can make a push to get onto Mike Weir’s International side at Royal Montreal. 

35. Talor Gooch
Age: 32 Data Golf RankingPGA Championship appearances: 4
Best PGA Championship finish: T20, 2022

His special invite was the clearest sign that the PGA of America put weight into LIV Golf performances on their own, for all the other special invitees were at least close to the historical OWGR Top 100 benchmark for invitations. Gooch is outside the world top 600 as he just hasn’t made any effort at all to play events for world ranking points. He was, however, LIV’s individual champion last year and has been a mainstay in headlines since his departure. First he sued the Tour to try to play in the FedEx Cup. Then he compared the atmosphere at LIV’s first event to the Ryder Cup. Then he said there’d be an asterisk if Rory McIlroy completed the career Grand Slam at the Masters. And, most recently, he’s decided not to try to qualify for the U.S. Open or the Open Championship because he’s got an axe to grind with the USGA. Under some pressure, then, to perform this week given how much he’s talked. Missed the cut in two of the three majors he played in last year. 

Advertisement

34. Shane Lowry
Age: 37 Data Golf Ranking: 49 PGA Championship appearances: 12
Best PGA Championship finish: T4, 2021

Caught fire in his adopted home of Florida with a T4 at the Cognizant Classic and a solo third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Another solid finish the following week at the Players had him on everyone’s sleeper list for the Masters, including my very own. Not much to write home about from Augusta but he did the best work of the season before the season even began—when he secured Rory McIlroy’s commitment to play with him in the Zurich Classic. They won that and the 300 FedEx Cup points each that come with it and now he’s smooth sailing in the FedEx Cup.

33. Russell Henley
Age: 35 Data Golf Ranking: 12 PGA Championship appearances: 10
Best PGA Championship finish: T12, 2015

Just an excellent ball striker. He’s a guy who maybe doesn’t get much media/fan attention but his fellow tour players know the quality of his game. So do the advanced stats as he’s way up there at 12th in Data Golf’s ranking. It hasn’t really translated to the biggest events, however, as he has just one major top 10 finish in 37 career starts and missed the cut at the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla. 

32. Brian Harman
Age: 37 Data Golf Ranking: 25 PGA Championship appearances: 9
Best PGA Championship finish: T13, 2017

Missed the cut at the Masters in his first major start since his Open Championship triumph and has actually missed the weekend in three of the last five majors. Does the majority of his damage either in bad weather or on shorter-ish courses that punish big misses, which he doesn’t really hit. Not a great track record in PGA Championships which tend to reward long and high-ball hitters. Certainly has a fiery side; we saw that when he shut up the Liverpool crowd last summer, and we saw it when he answered a journalists’s question to take him through a double-bogey with a simple answer: “No.” 

31. Akshay Bhatia
Age: 22 Data Golf Ranking: 33 PGA Championship appearances: First

A rising star who won his first PGA Tour event in Texas to get a last-minute Masters spot. Made the cut at Augusta and flashed some unbelievable short-game shots but that was his seventh consecutive week playing and, even at 22, fatigue likely played a factor. He’s a fearless player and already one of the best ball strikers in the world—he ranks sixth on tour in strokes gained approach and a super impressive fifth in strokes gained overall.  

30. Dustin Johnson
Age: 39 Data Golf Ranking: 62 PGA Championship appearances: 14
Best PGA Championship finish: 2, 2019

He’s got a LIV victory this year but he also seems to be trending the wrong way, and as he inches ever closer to 40 and has followed up on his promise to play less golf and spend more time with the family, you wonder if he’ll ever reach the heights of the late 2010s into 2020 again. He’s been T48 or worse in four of the last five major championships and his 78-79 at the Masters beat just three other players in the field. Sort of amazing that he hasn’t won a PGA Championship in his career, as it’s not for lack of close calls: there was the bunker penalty at Whistling Straits in 2010, a too-little-too-late chasedown of Brooks Koepka at Bethpage in 2019 and a blown 54-hole lead at TPC Harding Park in 2020. 

29. Tony Finau
Age: 34 Data Golf Ranking: 30 PGA Championship appearances: 9
Best PGA Championship finish: T4, 2020

His disappointing run at majors continued with a T55 at the Masters. After posting nine major top-10s from the 2018 Masters through the 2021 PGA Championship he hasn’t been better than T15 in his last 11, and he was near the bottom of the board at Quail Hollow. There are some impressive finishes sprinkled in recently—he was T2 at the Houston Open despite losing shots putting for the week—but not a ton of good results on demanding golf courses. Needs to find fairways to put himself in position to attack with the best part of his game right now, which are the irons. 

28. Jason Day
Age: 36 Data Golf Ranking: 48 PGA Championship appearances: 14
Best PGA Championship finish: WIN, 2015

It’d be a bit cruel if he finished his career with that lone major win at the 2015 PGA Championship. Started the year strongly in his new Malbon fits with three top 10s in his first five starts but played only okay through the spring. Good, then, that he showed some form at Quail Hollow last week. He’s not hitting many fairways, which gives me some pause heading into Valhalla. Along with swing coach Chris Como he’s crafted a new move that doesn’t put as much strain on his back and he’s been pretty healthy for a good while now. Just one top-25 finish in his last nine major starts.  

Advertisement

27. Sahith Theegala
Age: 26 Data Golf Ranking: 14 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: T40, 2023

Has to be the most humble person on the planet who’s 12th best in the world at what they do. That’s a mouthful, but you know what I mean. Five top-10 finishes in five huge events has him flying high in the FedEx Cup and sitting at fourth in strokes gained overall. Been a very erratic driver of the ball in his first few years on tour but it’s under control now and he ranks 21st in strokes gained off the tee, a massive leap from 134th last season. So-so showing in last five major championships. 

26. Sepp Straka
Age: 31 Data Golf Ranking: 42 PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: T7, 2023

Trending nicely—his last three individual starts have produced a T16 at the Masters, a T5 at the RBC Heritage and a T8 at Quail Hollow. Posted two top-10s in majors last year and with a Ryder Cup appearance now under his belt he’s taken a significant leap forward in his career. Solid T16 at Augusta for this Georgia Bulldog.

25. Matt Fitzpatrick
Age: 29 Data Golf Ranking: 16 PGA Championship appearances: T5, 2022
Best PGA Championship finish: 8

Seemed to have put a pretty poor start to the season behind him with some solid play at the Players (solo 5th), a top 10 in San Antonio and a T22 at the Masters only to put up an absolute stinker through 3 rounds at Quail Hollow. (Did shoot -4 the final round). He’s been horrible in signature events this year: T58 at Pebble Beach, missed cut at Riviera, missed cut at Bay Hill and then the struggle bus in Charlotte. Had some high-profile equipment issues this year with the accidental weight added to his driver and issues with spin control with the short irons. He’s clearly not at his best right now. All that said he is a very, very gritty player who thrives the harder it gets and has been T22 or better in seven of the last nine major championships. 

24. Min Woo Lee
Age: 25 Data Golf Ranking: 47 PGA Championship appearances: 2
Best PGA Championship finish: T18, 2023

Broke his right ring finger just nine days before the Masters, which makes his T22 that much more impressive. He’s got every right to be annoyed that guys like Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar got sponsor’s invites into Quail Hollow when he, a 25-year-old up-and-comer from Australia with a massive social media following ranked No. 34 in the world didn’t. But he’s too easy going to get riled up about that, and there’s a huge opportunity this week. He’s played very well in majors, finishing T22 or better in three of the last four. Ranks eighth in driving distance and ninth in strokes gained off the tee. Plenty of firepower, and hopefully in better physical condition than he was at Augusta. 

23. Justin Thomas
Age: 31 Data Golf Ranking: 20 PGA Championship appearances: WIN, 2017, 2022
Best PGA Championship finish: WIN, 2017, 2022

Hometown boy had just turned pro and thus missed the 2014 PGA at Valhalla, so this is his first opportunity to play a major championship in front of his Louisville brethren. There have been plenty of good weeks recently that point toward a resurgence, but missed cuts at the Players and the Masters can’t be ignored. Top-fived at the RBC Heritage and finished T21 at Quail Hollow in his last two starts, and he’s obviously comfortable on PGA of America setups with both his major wins coming at this tournament. 

22. Sungaje Im
Age: 26 Data Golf Ranking: 53 PGA Championship appearances: 5
Best PGA Championship finish: T17, 2021

Went through the worst stretch of his career, going nine straight starts without a top-15 finish and with four missed cuts mixed in. He looks to be past it, though, finishing 12th at the RBC Heritage then winning a tournament in Korea and hanging around the top of the board at Quail Hollow. His iron play has been very poor this year but has improved in recent weeks. His caddie, Will Wilcox, has one helluva story and might be my favorite person in this traveling golf circus.  

Advertisement

21. Viktor Hovland
Age: 26 Data Golf Ranking: 10  PGA Championship appearances: 4
Best PGA Championship finish: T2, 2023

The longer this mini-slump continues the more puzzling his decision to part with coach Joey Mayo after the best season of his career becomes. Finished T36 out of 69 at Bay Hill then T62 at the Players only to take off three weeks to try to sort things out before the Masters. Missed the cut at Augusta then skipped another high-profile week with the RBC Heritage to once again try to right the ship and was middle of the pack at Quail Hollow. His short game statistics have been putrid this year, and that’s the area of the game that improved so dramatically last year. Proved the toughest challenger to Brooks Koepka last year before his ball plugged in the face of the bunker on the 72nd hole. He’ll have juicy odds but there just haven’t been any top finishes this calendar year.

20. Cameron Smith
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 28 PGA Championship appearances: 8
Best PGA Championship finish: T9, 2023

With top 10s in three of the last four major championships he remains a world-class golfer, even if you might be seeing less of him. He’s an old-school player—not a bomber by any means and a shotmaker with one of the world’s finest short games. It’s a great formula for the Masters, where he has five top-10 finishes in his last seven starts, but a bit less so for PGA Championship setups that can border on brutish. All that said, he picked up a T9 at Oak Hill last year and comes in off a T2 at LIV Singapore. Flying under the radar, as so many LIV players seem to do.

19. Tyrrell Hatton
Age: 32 Data Golf Ranking: 8 PGA Championship appearances: 7
Best PGA Championship finish: T10, 2018

His T9 at the Masters was his first major top-10 since the 2019 Open Championship and particularly noteworthy given his disdain for Augusta National. In his own words, he’d find a way to moan about a golf course he himself designed and it’s been more of the same since he went to LIV: world-class play and world-class hot mic material. He’s been in the positive in strokes gained overall in 13 straight events dating back to last September and has two top 10s in PGA Championships to his name. 

18. Sam Burns
Age: 27 Data Golf Ranking: 27 PGA Championship appearances: 4
Best PGA Championship finish: T20, 2022

He’s 27 years old, he’s 27th in the official world golf ranking and he’s 27th in Data Golf rankings. It’s the little things. Played very nicely out west (four straight top 10s) but hadn’t finished better than T30 in five starts leading into Quail Hollow. A T13 last week in Charlotte came at the right time, then. Five PGA Tour wins on the resume but has just one top-20 finish in majors, and it’s a T20. He actually played quite well in the 2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow but was stuck with some bad partners/got unlucky with who he went up against. His wife gave birth to their first son, Bear—yep, Bear—just after the RBC Heritage. 

17. Joaquin Niemann
Age: 25 Data Golf RankingPGA Championship appearances: 6
Best PGA Championship finish: T23, 2022

He’s been LIV’s best player this year, he’s entering his prime years, he passes the eye test—how, then does he have just one top-20 finish (and zero top 10’s) in 20 career major championship starts. That’s inexcusable for a player of his caliber and makes you wonder, why? Does he hit it too low? Is he putting too much pressure on himself? With two wins already on LIV this year that is the clear next-step progression in his career, to at least semi-contend in a major championship. Hell, he’d even take a backdoor top 10. Max Homa showed at the Masters that it is possible to go from being a guy who shrinks in the majors to a guy who thrives in them. Perhaps Niemann’s up next. 

16. Patrick Cantlay
Age: 32 Data Golf Ranking: 6 PGA Championship appearances: 7
Best PGA Championship finish: T3, 2019

Dealing with a lot of external noise over his role on the PGA Tour policy board. Multiple reports, including from this writer, say he’s the most important voice in the room and was one of the chief opposers to Rory McIlroy coming back to the board. You have to wonder if all that noise has found its way through the barriers he puts between himself and the social media ecosystem. Been one of the most consistent players on tour over the last half-decade but there have been significantly more off weeks this season, and he struggled pretty heavily at Quail Hollow last week. 

15. Will Zalatoris
Age: 27 Data Golf Ranking: 51 PGA Championship appearances: 2
Best PGA Championship finish: 2, 2022

I’m conflicted. He was a constant presence at majors before his surgery and took T9 at the Masters just one month ago. But it’s hard not to be concerned about what’s transpired in that month—he finished T44 in a 69-man field at the RBC Heritage then withdrew from his hometown event, the CJ Cup Byron Nelson, to rest his back. His statement said it’s not an unexpected development and not to worry about the long term, and there’s no reason not to believe him, but back injuries are different. They just are.  

Advertisement

14. Hideki Matusyama
Age: 32 Data Golf Ranking: 17 PGA Championship appearances: 11
Best PGA Championship finish: T4, 2016

Having a very, very solid year but withdrew from last week’s tournament with an unspecified back injury. He’s struggled with his neck over the last few years but it’s more of a miss-a-tournament-ever-now-and-then thing rather than negatively impacting his play when he actually does tee it up. Thought of primarily as a flusher but his short game statistics are terrific this year. You don't win the Masters and shoot 62 at Riviera without being a five-tool golfer. 

13. Byeong Hun An
Age: 32 Data Golf Ranking: 43 PGA Championship appearances: 7
Best PGA Championship finish: T22, 2020

Played 28 career majors without a top-15 finish. That’s the bad news. The good news is he’s playing by far the best golf of his career, sitting sixth in the FedEx Cup fresh off a solo 3rd at the Wells Fargo and looking good to make the Presidents Cup team. Had a hell of an amateur career—he was the youngest-ever winner of the U.S. Amateur in 2009 and blew a 3-up lead in the semis in 2010—before a long, winding journey overseas finally led him back to the PGA Tour. Might not think of him as a bomber but he ranks fifth on tour in driving distance.

12. Wyndham Clark
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 11 PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: T75, 2022

Twelve months ago he was a talented but underachieving middle-of-the-road PGA Tour player. Fast forward and he’s got three PGA Tour wins—two signature events and a major championship, and second-place finishes to Scottie Scheffler at both Bay Hill and The Players. He’s all the way up to No. 3 in the world and any notion that last year might’ve been a fluke has been summarily vanquished. The only thing is he’s a bit inconsistent—went solo second at TPC Sawgrass, missed the cut at the Masters, went T3 the following week at the RBC Heritage then shot +7 for the week at Quail Hollow. That’s a fine formula for the OWGR, which doesn’t punish poor weeks as much as Data Golf does, which explains the gap in his two respective rankings. He lives and dies with his driver and should, in theory, fare well on PGA Championship setups given his bomber style. Amazingly, his U.S. Open win is his only top-30 finish in a major and he’s gone missed cut, T75, missed cut in PGA Championships. But that was then, and this is now. 

11. Cameron Young
Age: 26 Data Golf Ranking: 26 PGA Championship appearances: 2
Best PGA Championship finish: T3, 2022

Kinda seems like a guy who’d pick off a PGA, doesn’t he? Drives it nine miles, strong enough to muscle it out of the rough, dad a lifetime PGA pro. His game’s held up super well in major championships thus far in his career: he’s been T9 or better in five of the last eight and finished one-shot behind the leader at both the 2022 Open and the 2022 PGA Championship. This is the part where anyone’s who’s bet on Cameron Young is screaming that he’ll tease you but never quite deliver the trophy. That’s the wrap when you’ve had seven runner-ups and two third-place finishes without a W. It could all change this week.  

10. Tommy Fleetwood
Age: 33 Data Golf Ranking: 13 PGA Championship appearances: 9
Best PGA Championship finish: T5, 2022

Been doing some cool shit on the caddie front this year. His longtime looper, Ian Finnis, has been out with an extended illness that recently required open-heart surgery. At the Masters he used local Augusta National caddie Gray Moore and finished T3, his best-ever Masters finish, for his third consecutive major top 10. After the RBC Heritage he went back home to Dubai to caddie for his 17-year-old stepson in his first Challenge Tour event, where he made the cut. He’s been one of the more dependable players on major setups the last few years because of how good his ball striking has been. Wouldn’t be the slightest surprise if his first PGA Tour victory was of the major variety. He’d be a very, very popular winner. 

9. Max Homa
Age: 33 Data Golf Ranking: 15 PGA Championship appearances: 5
Best PGA Championship finish: T13, 2022

No top-10 finishes in his first 16 major starts only to flip the script and post two consecutive ones—including a T3 at the Masters, his first real time being in contention at one of the big four. And he was there all week long and hardly blinked. He’ll take a ton from that performance and who’s to say how things would’ve gone had he gotten a different bounce on the 12th hole. Played well last week at Quail Hollow and this, given his form over the last few years, combined with his showing at Augusta, is probably the best he’s ever felt going into a major championship week. 

8. Collin Morikawa
Age: 27 Data Golf Ranking: 9 PGA Championship appearances: 4
Best PGA Championship finish: WIN, 2020

Broke up with his coach of 18 years, Rick Sessinghaus, right before the Ryder Cup. Then started with Mark Blackburn and won his first start at the Zozo Championship. Now he’s back with Sessinghaus and coming off a gutsy T3 at the Masters, where he came in showing little form. He’s finished inside the top 10 in eight of 17 majors he’s played in. That’s because he’s one of the world’s very best at a crucial skill in this game: hitting it where you’re looking. The week-to-week variables come with the putter, always his Achilles heel, but he’s come in having gained shots in three consecutive starts on the greens. I like his chances. 

Advertisement

7. Ludvig Aberg
Age: 24 Data Golf Ranking: 3 PGA Championship appearances: First

Just 11 months as a professional and he’s already, per Data Golf, the third best player on the planet. Became the first player ever to play in a Ryder Cup before a major championship and had to wait another seven months for his major debut: it couldn’t have gone any better. Well, just one spot better, for he finished solo second to Scottie Scheffler at Augusta National. Followed it up with a top-10 finish at the RBC Heritage but, and it’s a sizable but, he withdrew from last week’s Wells Fargo Championship to rest his knee. Likely more precautionary than anything and might actually make him a more attractive bet given a shift in odds. Profiles as a multiple-time major champion and, as he showed at Augusta, his game is 100% ready for the breakthrough. Is his body? 

6. Xander Schauffele
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 2 PGA Championship appearances: 7
Best PGA Championship finish: T10, 2020

So, so many near-misses. He took the loss at the Players Championship hard and, while it’s a little easier losing to a 65 from Rory McIlroy, he did enter the back nine tied for the lead this past Sunday with eight holes left and played them in two over par. He’s spoken in the past about how much this string of close calls has tested his patience but he continues to play well just about every week, and Data Golf has him as the second best player in the world. Statistically there is no weakness but the eye test shows a clear pattern of playing differently while in the lead than what got him there. A major championship has to be in his future. Worth noting that he’s played the other three majors far better than he has the PGA Championship. 

5. Bryson DeChambeau
Age: 30 Data Golf Ranking: 18 PGA Championship appearances: 6
Best PGA Championship finish: T4, 2023

Incredibly, he was among the crowd favorites at Augusta National. What a difference a few years makes. Bryson’s in a much better physical and emotional state than he was on the PGA Tour, where he was the center of attention at every tournament he played in. Now an equipment free agent he’s been able to flex his physics muscles and helped co-design a set of 3D printed irons that are shaped more like a wood than a traditional iron. He’s been T6 or better in two of the last four majors and has top-five finishes in two of his last three PGA Championship starts. Now no longer consumed by trying to get bigger and longer he says his sole focus in shooting the lowest scores he can. That, and his growing YouTube channel. Was middle of the pack in both LIV events since the Masters, which broke a spell of five straight top-10 finishes worldwide, even if that stat is watered down by 54-man LIV Golf fields. 

4. Rory McIlroy
Age: 35 Data Golf Ranking: 5 PGA Championship appearances: 15
Best PGA Championship finish: WIN, 2012 and 2014

Never a dull moment with Mr. McIlroy. The latest: he’s won each of the last two tournaments he’s played in. Sure, one of them was a team event and yes, Scottie Scheffler didn’t play in the other. But you can only beat the people in front of you, and Rory carried Lowry for large parts of the week, and it’s doubtful the great Scottie could’ve kept up with Rory at Quail Hollow. He reminded us Sunday with that final-round 65 of why his every move generates so much conversation; it’s because when he’s bouncing around a golf course like that he makes this torturous game look impossibly easy. Now he returns to the site of his most recent major victory, a decade ago, as a 35-year-old father with more grey in those curls than brown. Whether he’s on the policy board or not matters little once he steps inside the ropes. 

Advertisement

3. Brooks Koepka
Age: 34 Data Golf Ranking: 50 PGA Championship appearances: 11Best PGA Championship finish: WIN, 2018, 2019, 2023

No one’s played PGA Championships better than he has, perhaps ever—he’s got three wins, a T2, a T4 and a T5 to his name and clearly loves the way Kerry Haigh sets up golf courses. Called his Masters performance (a T45) embarrassing then flipped the script completely with a two-shot win at LIV Singapore to become the first LIV golfer with four wins. He’s toyed around with different putters and went away from the blade model he used for all five major wins, opting instead for a mallet at Augusta and keeping it in the bag through Singapore. An in-form Brooks Koepka heading into a PGA Championship is a scary sight, and he’ll love his chances to add a sixth major and catch Phil Mickelson and Nick Faldo on the all-time list. Finished T15 at the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla as a 24-year-old who wasn’t nearly as buff as he is now. 

2. Scottie Scheffler
Age: 27 Data Golf Ranking: 1 PGA Championship appearances: 4
Best PGA Championship finish: T2, 2023

He’s no. 2 out of respect and respect only. I simply respect his good-guy nature too much to think he’s been preparing the last week, as his wife Meredith went into labor, the same way he’s prepared for other massive events this year. As much as his wife might insist on following his practice routine, Scottie’s just too nice not to be there by her side during this time. That’s the only reason he’s no. 2, because let’s not let our Tik-Tok brains and short attention spans forget he’s on a WIN-WIN-T2-WIN-WIN streak, or that he’s hitting the ball better than anyone since prime Tiger Woods, or that he’s finally putting well. That was the status quo before Baby Scheffler, that is. His situation is an unprecedented one in golf; it’d be like if Tiger’s 2000 season was interrupted by the birth of his first child. How will it impact Scottie? We don’t know, but it’s a variable. And there were no variables really before this. That’s why he’s No. 2. 

1. Jon Rahm
Age: 29 Data Golf Ranking: 5 PGA Championship appearances: 7
Best PGA Championship finish: T4, 2018

He’s played consistently well in his first LIV season but hasn’t yet won, and that doesn’t really register with the golfing public. The one tournament he did play against Scottie Scheffler, who has soared to clear-cut No. 1 status since Rahm’s departure, he finished T45 at the Masters and looked pretty miserable all week. Could he be regretting his decision? Is it possible he thought his move would precipitate the PGA Tour-PIF deal that’s still nowhere near? Or are we forgetting that Rahm wasn’t exactly rainbows-and-lollipops before he left the PGA Tour? All are possible, as is him adding a third major and the third leg of the career Grand Slam this week. No one’s talking much about him because of that Masters performance and the relative anonymity of LIV but let’s not forget who this is and what he’s capable of. He’ll have some extra motivation this week, whether he admits it or not. You don’t want to put up two dud majors after making the move. And last year at this time he was the Scottie Scheffler figure in the game. He’s my pick. 

Download the Barstool Golf Time app now. Book the best tee times at the best prices all in one place. Leave course reviews. Redeem rewards for free Barstool Golf merch. Follow Barstool Golf Time on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook.

SKLZ Barstool Golf products are available at golfgalaxy.com/barstool, the Barstool Store, or in-store at Golf Galaxy and select Dick’s Sporting Goods House of Sport locations.

Advertisement