PGA Power Rankings: Where Each Golfer Stands

Ben Alberstadt@benalberstadtFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2013

PGA Power Rankings: Where Each Golfer Stands

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    Some might think that coming out of nowhere for one's first PGA Tour victory, as Derek Ernst did, ought to earn the golfer a spot in the Power Rankings.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't.

    In the Official World Golf Ranking, Ernst jumped from 1,207 to 123 with his win. With his performance at the Wells Fargo Championship, he has now gained more OWGR points in 2013 than Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Jason Dufner and Bubba Watson.

    That fact is an indication of which direction the aforementioned are heading in this edition of the PGA Tour Power Rankings. Read on to find out who's moving up.

25. Nick Watney

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    OWGR: 24

    Previous Rank: N/A

    Why He's Here: Sure, his final-round 76 at the Wells Fargo Championship was not so hot. However, Nick Watney has been playing very well as of late. He finished tied for 13th at the Masters and has finished inside the top-15 in his two starts since the season's first major.

    How He Could Climb: Watney tied for 56th at the Players Championship last year. He will have to do markedly better than that this year if he is going to move up in the rankings.

24. David Lynn

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    OWGR: 42

    Previous Rank: N/A

    Why He's Here: Lynn has had something of an up-and-down season. He finished tied for 46th at the Masters and then missed the cut twice, prior to finishing behind Ernst in a playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship. However, Lynn is 21st in OWGR points gained in 2013 and belongs on this list.

    How He Could Climb: If the journeyman finds a measure of consistency, he'll stand a decent chance of overtaking those immediately in front of him.

23. Fredrik Jacobson

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    OWGR: 47

    Previous Rank: 16

    Why He's Here: Jacobson hasn't played since the Masters and has been passed by players who have. Prior to a 25th-place finish at Augusta, he had only finished outside the top 20 once in his six starts.

    How He Could Climb: In order to move up the rankings, Jacobson will have to actually play golf. If he maintains the consistent level of quality play he has demonstrated thus far upon returning, he is sure to continue inching towards the top of this list.

22. Jim Furyk

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    OWGR: 21

    Previous Rank: 21

    Why He's Here: Following the Masters, Jim Furyk stumbled home at the RBC Heritage with a final-round 76. For Furyk, the finish was yet another disappointment, which must be made all the more bothersome as it came on the heels of a less-than-stellar weekend at Augusta.

    How He Could Climb: Plainly, Furyk needs to figure out how to play good golf down the stretch again. He has won 16 times on tour and should be able to play quality golf in the final round of PGA Tour events.

21. Hunter Mahan

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    OWGR: 23

    Previous Rank: 18

    Why He's Here: Mahan falls back a couple of spots even after making the cut twice since the Masters. Unconvincing finishes of 91st and 73rd aren't going to vault the golfer forward.

    How He Could Climb: Mahan's year began with top-20 finishes in five of his first six events. He needs to return to that form to advance.

20. Thorbjorn Olesen

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    OWGR: 33

    Previous Rank: 17

    Why He's Here: In Olesen's first start after an impressive top-10 finish at the Masters, the young Dane was significantly less impressive. Olesen missed the cut at the Zurich Classic.

    How He Could Climb: Olesen certainly seems to have the talent. If he continues to play in more tournaments, things will likely take care of themselves.  

19. Lee Westwood

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    OWGR: 12

    Previous Rank: 22

    Why He's Here: A tie for fourth at the Well Fargo Championship nudges Lee Westwood up a spot. Having just turned 40, Westwood must feel the window of opportunity for a major victory beginning to close, and he is playing well entering the next decade of his life.

    How He Could Climb: If Westood continues to make cuts, peppering his results with top-10 finishes, then he will continue to climb up the rankings.

18. Luke Donald

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    OWGR: 5

    Previous Rank: 20

    Why He's Here: Luke Donald jumps up the list a couple of spots after a strong showing at the RBC Heritage, where he finished tied for third. He didn't overwhelm at the Masters, but he was solid en route to a tie for 23rd. 

    How He Could Climb: Donald has still only played six times on the PGA Tour this season. If he is going to move up these rankings or make a push to regain the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, he will need to play more golf. 

17. Rickie Fowler

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    OWGR: 29

    Previous Rank: 15

    Why He's Here: Rickie Fowler finished in a tie for 73rd at the Wells Fargo Championship, which is pretty unimpressive work from the defending champion. Even so, he only falls a spot on this list.

    How He Could Climb: A second career win would help, but Fowler has been consistently very good so far in 2013. If he continues to add top-10 and top-25 finishes to his resume, he will continue moving up.

16. Charl Schwartzel

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    OWGR: 16

    Previous Rank: 12

    Why He's Here: Falling a few places this week, Charl Schwartzel hasn't played since the Masters. Before heading to Augusta this year, Schwartzel made the cut in all of his PGA Tour starts and finished in the top 10 in his three European Tour events.

    How He Could Climb: Making a run at the lead wouldn't hurt Schwartzel. Routinely finishing inside the top 25 helps; however, Schwartzel is a player who could be winning with regularity on both tours.

15. Louis Oosthuizen

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    OWGR: 7

    Previous Rank: 13

    Why He's Here: King Louis falls a few spots in this edition of the Power Rankings. He hasn't teed it up since missing the cut at Augusta, so it's impossible to think the South African would be going up in the ranking.

    How He Could Climb: Lack of consistency has held Oosthuizen back this year. His pattern seems to be top-15 finish, miss the cut, repeat. Breaking out of this routine should help.

14. Jason Day

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    OWGR: 25

    Previous Rank: 14

    Why He's Here: After a thrilling third-place finish at the Masters, Jason Day got around Harbour Town at the RBC Heritage in a respectable even par.

    How He Could Climb: To really move forward, Day needs a win, given the quality of those ahead of him on this list. However, consistent top-20 finishes could also nudge him up a spot or two. 

13. Steve Stricker

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    OWGR: 9

    Previous Rank: 8

    Why He's Here: Stricker has had three top fives in his four PGA Tour starts, including a second-place finish at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. He finished tied for 20th at the Masters a week later.

    How He Could Climb: It is unlikely that Steve Stricker will play incredibly well while maintaining a reduced schedule. This does not seem to bother him, however, as his priorities are increasingly outside the ropes. This is entirely appropriate for a player in Stricker's position. 

12. Keegan Bradley

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    OWGR: 14

    Previous Rank: 11

    Why He's Here: Before heading to Augusta, Keegan Bradley had made nine out of 10 cuts this year, with five Top-10 finishes. His final-round 69 was as good as his third-round 82 was bad.

    How He Could Climb: Bradley should be able able to channel the final-round bounce back and associated quality performance into better play heading into the season's second major. If he does this, he will climb.

11. Dustin Johnson

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    OWGR: 19

    Previous Rank: 9

    Why He's Here: Dustin Johnson hasn't had to roll out of bed (leaving You Know Who) for a PGA Tour event since the Masters. As such, his ranking remains much the same.

    How He Could Climb: If Johnson begins to play better in the middle rounds of tournaments, he will move up these rankings.

10. Webb Simpson

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    OWGR: 18

    Previous Rank: 25

    Why He's Here: Just like Phil Mickelson, Webb Simpson also made a huge move this week. Simpson nearly won the RBC Heritage in a playoff and followed that performance with a decent showing (T-32) at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    How He Could Climb: Webb is consistently a very good player on tour. He's carded seven top-25 finishes in just 12 starts. More play like this will continue his upward progress.

9. Sergio Garcia

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    OWGR: 15

    Previous Rank: 6

    Why He's Here: Following the Masters, Garcia finished a respectable tie for 16th at the Wells Fargo Championship. Unfortunately, he doesn't move up in the ranking because others have played better.

    How He Could Climb: Garcia needs to stay away from the big numbers and get out of his head a bit to play more consistently on tour.

8. Rory McIlroy

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    OWGR: 2

    Previous Rank: 7

    Why He's Here: With a tie for 10th at the Wells Fargo, McIlroy has clearly asserted himself once again. He only falls in this ranking because Graeme McDowell has moved ahead of him.

    How He Could Climb: Rory seems to have his affairs in order and looks ready to mount a sustained attack on the PGA Tour leaderboards. Assuming no off-the-course distractions get in the way, McIlroy's climb is inevitable.

7. Graeme McDowell

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    OWGR: 8

    Previous Rank: 24

    Why He's Here: The biggest leap in this week's Power Rankings was made by Mr. Graeme McDowell, who won at the RBC Heritage.

    How He Could Climb: If McDowell wants his fine play to continue, then he had better get out there and play more frequently, especially following a victory.

6. Justin Rose

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    OWGR: 4

    Previous Rank: 5

    Why He's Here: Rose has fallen a spot as Phil Mickelson takes over the fifth spot this week. Rose tied for 15th at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. However, as good as he has been, Mickelson has been better.

    How He Could Climb: Rose has enough top-10's and top-five's. He needs to win this year.

5. Phil Mickelson

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    OWGR: 10

    Previous Rank: 10

    Why He's Here: Lefty takes a leap forward in this edition of the power rankings on the heels of a good showing—through the first 68 holes, at least—at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    How He Could Climb: If Mickelson is able to keep balls hit with his new driver and "Phranken" clubs in play, then he will be a formidable threat in 2013.

4. Adam Scott

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    OWGR: 3

    Previous Rank: 4

    Why He's Here: The 2013 Masters Champion hasn't put a peg in the ground since that tournament. Given his inactivity, he also is not moving up or down in these rankings.

    How He Could Climb: If Scott continues to strike the ball the way he has recently and putts at an adequate level, he will be a force to be reckoned with in the three remaining majors this year.

3. Brandt Snedeker

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    OWGR: 6

    Previous Rank: 3

    Why He's Here: A tie for 59th at the RBC Heritage isn't exactly a triumph. However, Brandt Snedeker hasn't played so poorly since the Masters that he ought to be bumped down. Neither have any of the surrounding players been so good that moving Snedeker is in order.

    How He Could Climb: Basically, Snedeker needs to rekindle his early season fire.

2. Matt Kuchar

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    OWGR: 11

    Previous Rank: 2

    Why He's Here: In his only start since the Masters, Kuchar turned in a respectable 35th-place performance at the RBC Heritage. Phenomenal? No. Poor enough to slide him down the rankings? Certainly not.

    How He Could Climb: It would take another win to even think about moving Kuchar up.

1. Tiger Woods

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    OWGR: 1

    Previous Rank: 1

    Why He's Here: Tiger Woods has held the top spot in the Power Rankings since before the Masters. As stated in the last edition, he has earned more OWGR points than any other player this season and is still the top-ranked player in the world. As Woods hasn't teed it up since Augusta, he hasn't moved in these rankings.

    How He Could Climb: He can't. It is unlikely that he will fall in the rankings either. Even a resounding victory by Kuchar or Snedeker—the players immediately behind Woods—wouldn't displace him.

    However, if Scott were to win the Players handily, it is possible the Aussie could leapfrog all three players in front of him.

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