Ranking the 10 Best Golfers on the PGA Tour in the First Third of 2014

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIMarch 17, 2014

Ranking the 10 Best Golfers on the PGA Tour in the First Third of 2014

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    Patrick Reed has won twice this year, is ranked No. 20 on the Official World Golf Rankings and feels he is one of the top five golfers in the world.

    No. 1-ranked Tiger Woods has been AWOL and injured for most of the season. No. 2 Adam Scott took an extended winter break and Rory McIlroy has not won on the PGA Tour since the 2012 BMW championship.

    Phil Mickelson does not have a top-10 finish this season. His best finish, a T-14, came at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China last November.

    Jimmy Walker, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Harris English have all had strong starts and are at the top of the PGA Tour money list.

    Here is a ranking of the 10 best golfers thus far on the 2013-14 PGA Tour.

No. 10 Tiger Woods

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    Tiger Woods is still the top-ranked golfer in the world, but has not performed like it this season.

    He started the season at one of his favorite courses, Torrey Pines, but didn't make the 54-hole cut and finished T-80.

    He skipped the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson and was forced to withdraw from the Honda Classic in the final round with back spasms.

    Woods had two good rounds at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral. A second-round 73 in the wind on Friday and a very solid six-under par 66 on Saturday gave his fans a small ray of hope.

    The back again became an issue on Sunday. He was unable to take a full swing, posted a final round 78 and fell to T-25.

    His only scheduled start remaining prior to the Masters is the Arnold Palmer Invitational next week at Bay Hill.

    Can Woods get his back to cooperate and allow him to play pain free?

    Health issues and a lack of competitive rounds have put Woods at the bottom of this list, but his overall grade has to be an incomplete. 

    Fans are still waiting to see the real Tiger Woods.

No. 9 Phil Mickelson

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    Phil Mickelson has played in seven events thus far in the 2013-14 PGA Tour season. He missed one cut, withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open and does not have a top-10 finish.

    His best finish of the year was a T-14 in November at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. The missed cut came at the Honda Classic and then he followed up with a T-16 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral.

    This is nothing new for Mickelson fans, who are accustomed to his inconsistency. 

    The Masters is looming and the drive down Magnolia Lane always seems to get Mickelson's full attention. Over the last 10 Masters, Mickelson has three wins and seven top-10 finishes.

    He has not met expectations yet this season. Given his number of starts and poor performances, Mickelson earns a solid D. 

No. 8 Rory McIlroy

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    Rory McIloy is definitely trending upward after a very disappointing 2013.

    He won the Australian Open last fall and has two top-10 finishes in just five starts on the PGA Tour this year.

    He posted three excellent rounds in the Honda Classic and held the 54-hole lead. He struggled on Sunday, but hit one of the best shots of the year at the last hole to get into a playoff. Russell Henley prevailed and McIlroy finished tied for runner-up.

    He has fallen to No. 7 on the Official World Golf Ranking, but may soon be moving higher.

    Even though we have ranked him No. 8 here, he earns a B+. He is trending higher, but we see room for improvement. 

No. 7 Adam Scott

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    Adam Scott took a six-week vacation from the middle of January to the end of February.

    It was well deserved. He followed up his Masters win with another at The Barclays in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

    In a triumphant return to Australia in November, he won two events, teamed with Jason Day to win the World Cup and finished as runner-up to Rory McIlroy in the Australian Open.

    He is ranked No. 2 in the world and is gaining on Tiger Woods.

    Scott finished T-12 in the Honda Classic and T-25 in the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

    We like his effort, but with just four starts on the PGA Tour this season, he earns a C+. 


No. 6 Jason Day

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    Jason Day had not won on the PGA Tour since the 2010 Byron Nelson, but had one of the best records of anyone in the majors last year. He finished third in the 2013 Masters, tied for runner-up in the U.S. Open and was T-8 in the PGA Championship.

    Day also won the World Cup individual title last November at Royal Melbourne and is definitely one of the best golfers in the world right now.

    He finished as runner-up at Torrey Pines and won the WGC-Accenture Match Play this year. He was forced to withdraw from the WGC-Cadillac Championship with a hand injury.

    Day has earned an A+ thus far in 2014. With a runner-up and a third-place finish in the last three Masters Tournaments, he has to be a favorite heading to Augusta.

No. 5 Harris English

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    Harris English has already played in 11 events in the 2013-14 and has six top-10 finishes including one win. He is just 24 years old and picked up his second career win at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba last fall on the wrap-around schedule.

    English is a threat to win every time he tees it up and it is only a matter of time until he wins his first major.

    He is No. 5 on the PGA Tour money list and consistently finishes inside the top-10.

    English is a star pupil rating an A+. 


No. 4 Bubba Watson

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    Prior to winning at Riviera in the Northern Trust Open, Bubba Watson had not won on the PGA Tour since the 2012 Masters. He had only three top-10 finishes in 18 starts last year and finished No. 38 in the FedEx Cup rankings.

    Watson is trying to enjoy the game more this season and it seems to be working. He has made every cut in his seven starts, has two runners-up and five top-10 finishes to go with his win. He is No. 4 on the PGA Tour money list and playing some of the best golf of his career.

    After a disappointing 2013, Watson has regained the desire to succeed on the golf course.

    He earns an A for his year thus far, but we still see room for improvement.


No. 3 Patrick Reed

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    After his win at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Patrick Reed announced to the world that he feels he is one of the top-five players in the world.

    We are forced to agree with him.

    Three wins in the last seven months at the Wyndham Championship in August, the Humana Challenge in January and the WGC-Cadillac puts him in very elite company. Rory McIlroy is the only other player currently under the age of 25 with three PGA Tour wins.

    He plays aggressively and misses some cuts, but when he gets himself into contention, he wins.

    Reed believes in himself and we do too. He gets a A+ for his confidence and performance. 

No. 2 Dustin Johnson

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    Dustin Johnson is at the top of nearly every statistic on the PGA Tour this season. He is second in driving distance, third in greens in regulation, and No. 10 in strokes gained-putting.

    Long off the tee, quick to the green and being one of the best putters on tour will win tournaments and earn a player lots of money on the PGA Tour.

    Johnson won the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, was runner-up at both Pebble Beach and Riviera and has five top-10 finishes in his six starts.

    Jimmy Walker has three wins this year and Patrick Reed has two, but Dustin Johnson is playing the most consistent golf of anyone on tour.

    This just may be the year he wins a major or two.

    He earns an A+ for his performance through the first third of 2014.

No. 1 Jimmy Walker

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    Jimmy Walker not only has three wins this year, he also has nine top-25 finishes in 11 starts. He leads the PGA Tour money list, the FedEx Cup rankings and has moved to No. 20 in the world.

    It took him over eight years to get his first win on tour, but he has been making up for lost time. It appears he will make his first Ryder Cup team this fall and is looking to contend in the majors this summer.

    Walker finally realized that he could compete with the big boys on the PGA Tour and he earns an A++.