Thursday, May 26, 2022

Scottie Scheffler to become 25th No. 1-ranked golfer in modern era after 2022 WGC-Dell Match Play win

With his 4 and 3 victory over Kevin Kisner in the championship match of the 2022 WGC-Dell Match Play, Scottie Scheffler did something that multi-time major winners Phil Mickelson, Collin Morikawa, Jose Maria Olazabal and Bubba Watson have never accomplished. Scheffler will become the No. 1-ranked golfer in the Official World Golf Rankings when the new list is released Monday.

His achievement as the 25th golfer to ever be ranked No. 1 (the OWGR started in April 1986) and just the ninth American to earn that billing is significant for a number of reasons, but two stand out above the rest. Two months ago, Scheffler had never won a PGA Tour event; he was 0 for 70. In the last six weeks, he’s won three and nearly doubled his career earnings. Scheffler took home the Phoenix Open and Arnold Palmer Invitational leading into this week’s match play, going from “best to never have won on Tour” to world No. 1 about as fast as it’s ever been done before.

Worthy of consideration is how many elite players before him never ascended to the OWGR throne. Scheffler — never previously ranked No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4 — not only leapfrogged his contemporary, two-time major winner Collin Morikawa, but also many of the best this game has ever produced on his way to becoming world No. 1 at the age of 25.

Mickelson, Olazabal, and Watson, but also Padraig Harrington, Retief Goosen  and John Daly, all multi-time major winners. It’s remarkable, really, that six months ago Scheffler was the 12th man on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, and now there’s nobody on the planet ranked ahead of him.

“I’ll believe it when I see it on the world rankings tomorrow,” Scheffler told NBC after his championship match. “I never really got that far in my dreams, to be honest with you,” he added before breaking into tears. “I love playing golf, I love competing, and I’m just happy to be out here.”

The Official World Golf Rankings are only one way to measure greatness, but even the more statistically-oriented Data Golf has Scheffler as a top seven player with that mark surely to move higher following his win at Austin Country Club this week. His rise into this upper crust of modern golf has been as swift as it’s been impressive. This time six weeks ago, he was No. 14 in the world and had never won on the PGA Tour. Now, he has the most wins of anyone this season and is ranked No. 1 in the world.

Tiger Woods

683

Greg Norman

331

Dustin Johnson

135

Rory McIlroy

106

Nick Faldo

97

Seve Ballesteros

61

Luke Donald

56

Jason Day

51

Ian Woosnam

50

Brooks Koepka

47

Nick Price

44

Jon Rahm

43

Vijay Singh

32

Jordan Spieth

26

Lee Westwood

22

Fred Couples

16

David Duval

15

Justin Rose

13

Adam Scott

11

Ernie Els

9

Martin Kaymer

8

Justin Thomas

5

Bernhard Langer

3

Tom Lehman

1

Scottie Scheffler

1

Nearly every golfer who has ever been ranked No. 1 has captured at least one major championship win. The only exceptions are Lee Westwood and Luke Donald. And while Scheffler has not reached that league yet, he’s been tremendous at majors over the last few years, racking up six consecutive top 20 finishes.

Scheffler’s reign at the top of the OWGR also might not last long. He took the spot from Jon Rahm this week, who narrowly missed holding onto it. Morikawa, who also advanced to the Round of 16, had an opportunity to become No. 1 as well. That will be a battle worth keeping an eye on as the major season starts to unfold, Rahm tries to get his spot back and Morikawa and Viktor Hovland (and others) try to add their names to this exclusive list.

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