Best major championship golfers in 2021: Jon Rahm leads the list as results cement top-ranked status


There was a shadow race going on during the Open Championship last week as the final few pairings came down the stretch at Royal St. George’s, and it involved pretty much everyone meaningfully involved in the 149th edition of that tournament. While Collin Morikawa won The Open and will be the Champion Golfer of the Year for the next 12 months, he ended up losing the aggregate major championship race, for which there is no award other than this article.

Jon Rahm, who finished in the top 10 at all four majors, took home that title by five strokes over both Morikawa and Louis Oosthuizen, who finished in the top three (!) in the last three majors. Jordan Spieth came in fourth in the aggregate, which means that the top four on the final Open Championship leaderboard are also your four best aggregate major golfers of 2021.

Rick Gehman is joined by Kyle Porter, Mark Immelman and Greg DuCharme to break down and react to Collin Morikawa’s victory at the 2021 Open Championship. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Here’s the full list (via GolfTV), which only includes players who made the cut in all four majors.

Jon Rahm

-24

4

Won

U.S. Open

Collin Morikawa

-19

3

Won

Open

Louis Oosthuizen

-19

3

2nd

U.S Open

Jordan Spieth

-16

2

2nd

Open

Scottie Scheffler

-10

3

T7

U.S. Open

Paul Casey

-7

2

T4

PGA
Robert MacIntyre +1 1 T8 Open

Harris English

+5

1

3rd

U.S. Open

Shane Lowry

+5

1

T4

PGA

Ian Poulter

+6

0

T26

Open

Matt Fitzpatrick

+9

0

T23

PGA

Bryson DeChambeau

+9

0

T26

U.S. Open

Christiaan Bezuidenhout

+11

0

T30

PGA

Joaquin Niemann

+12

0

T30

PGA

Some notes on this.

• Rahm’s major year finally squared up with what has been true for the past five years. He has been, statistically anyway, the best player in the world for the last 12 months … and the last 24 months … and the last 36, 48 and 60 months. Nobody has a better strokes-gained number across any of those time periods, and this year his major record (and U.S. Open win) caught up with the way he’s been playing golf for a very long time.

• Morikawa’s improvement from the first major of the year to the last is almost as impressive as the fact that he has two of them at age 24. He went from T18 at the Masters to T8 at the PGA Championship to T4 at the U.S. Open to a win at Royal St. George’s. Though he didn’t truly contend at either the Masters or the PGA, he was kind of in it at the U.S. Open until he made double at the par-5 13th where other contenders were making birdie or par. He probably wasn’t getting past Rahm, but that’s a pretty interesting what-if.

• Oosthuizen’s year (and career) is an example of why major championship golf is infuriating. He lost to four golfers over the last three majors and walked away with zero trophies. Phil Mickelson, on the other hand, lost to 212 golfers over the last three majors and walked away with his sixth.

• Scottie Scheffler quietly had an incredibly impressive major championship year. He’s finished in the top 20 in six of his seven major starts as a pro, and is an absolute horse you can ride at the biggest events in the world.

• Robert MacIntyre may have played himself onto the European Ryder Cup team by what he did at the majors alone. He finished top 15 at both the Masters and the Open Championship, and is officially lurking just outside the automatic qualifiers for Whistling Straits.

• You can say the same about Shane Lowry, too, although he would qualify if the teams were decided today. He was low-key really good during a year in which he needed to be to get onto the Ryder Cup team. Qualifying for the 2021 Ryder Cup didn’t start until after Lowry won his Open in 2019, and he was playing good golf after his Open win in the fall of 2019 and pre-pandemic in 2020 but not necessarily great golf. Then he was lousy when he returned amid the pandemic in the summer and fall of 2020. The Ryder Cup being bumped to 2021 likely will result in him get on a team he may not have made in 2020, which will obviously be meaningful to him and a joy to watch. At the time it felt like that Open win was propelling him toward his first Ryder Cup, so it’s going to be nice to see that probably come to fruition, even if it’s two years later.

• Had Bryson DeChambeau shot even par on the back nine at Torrey Pines instead of the 44, he would have finished seventh on this list. Still, it’s crazy that he didn’t have a single top 25 at a major this year.

• One name who’s not on this list is Brooks Koepka, who finished in the top six in each of the last three majors but missed the cut at the Masters. He had a monumental major season that was spoiled by a bad wheel at Augusta National that prevented him from playing the weekend. Still, he deserves to be mentioned among the best major championship golfers of 2021.





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