OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP POWER RANKINGS: TOP 10
10. Jon Rahm
The 23-year-old Spanish wunderkind Rahm is as safe of a bet as there is to win a major SOMEDAY. Heck, if you can get any kind of odds on multiple majors, do it now, but will it be this year and this major? That is harder to be confident in.
Last year was ridiculous for Rahm: in 23 starts, with most coming on courses he had never competed on before, the then 22-year-old had a victory, two runner-ups, and two third place finishes among 11 top 10s. He added an additional two wins on the European Tour, and with wins on a variety of courses, he showed that he can win anywhere, any time.
His 2018 has not been quite as stellar, though, as he has been very up-and-down since reaching No. 2 in the world rankings after a win in the CareerBuilder Challenge in late January. He is still dominant in Europe, with a win at the Spanish Open followed by finishes of T5 and T4, and a solo-fourth at The Masters was his best finish in major to date, but he missed the cut at the U.S. Open by a mile, hitting 15-over-par before his two rounds were up. He was also terrible at both the WGC-Match Play (T52) and THE PLAYERS Championship (T63).
At a course where scoring is high and birdies are rare, it could be difficult for the often-demonstrative Rahm to keep his emotions in check.
World Rank: 5th
2018 Majors: 4th (Masters), MC (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: 4, 5, MC, 5, 63, 1, 4
9. Justin Thomas
There is a lot to like about the World No. 2: he is the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year and has added two more victories this season. Thomas is currently second in the FedExCup standings and leads the PGA Tour money list.
The 25-year-old has also proved that he can go the distance in a major, taking the PGA Championship last August. However, while he has reached the status where he is among the favorites every time he tees up, his recent form has been far less spectacular, as a pair of T8s (The Memorial and French Open) are his only top 10s, since a hot February and March.
He did not factor into either of the first two majors of the year, and while it might be a small sample size, his Open history is poor, with a T53 and a missed cut in his two starts.
It might be the pressure from the whole battle for World No. 1, a position Thomas held for a month, but while a second career major is almost definitely inevitable, it does not appear imminent.
World Rank: 2nd
2018 Majors: T17 (Masters), T25 (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: 8, 56, 25, 8, 11, 21, 17
8. Tyrrell Hatton
The talented 26-year-old Englishman Hatton might be the streakiest great golfer in the world. When he is off, he is very off, which we saw when he missed the cut in all four majors last year, and in a six-event stretch earlier this year, when he missed four cuts and had no finishes inside the top 40.
When he is on, however, he has a major championship game, which we saw in several red-hot stretches over 2016 and late 2017. Hatton fans should be comforted to learn that he is currently “on,” with three straight quality finishes, including a T6 at the U.S. Open – his third top-10 in his last eight majors starts.
If he can control his famous temper, the world No. 23 – who has reached as high as No. 13 – looks primed to add a major to a resume that includes three victories and 15 top-10s over the past three years.
World Rank: 23rd
2018 Majors: T44 (Masters), T6 (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: 9, 16, 6, MC, MC, MC, 42
7. Rory McIlroy
Arguably the most talented golfer in the sport, Rory McIlroy returns to the site of some good memories this week, as Carnoustie was the spot of his first major appearance in 2007.
In that first career Open, McIlroy was in third place after 18 holes despite being an 18-year-old amateur, and he went on to win low amateur honors for the week.
Eleven years later, a now 29-year-old Rory has proved himself worthy of all the hype, winning 14 times on the PGA Tour and 13 times on the European Tour, including four major championships. More recently, he has shown an affinity for The Open Championship, winning the 2014 edition at Royal Liverpool and posting finishes of T4 and T5 in two starts since.
However, Rory is majorless since 2014, and coming off what was essentially a lost 2017 season, due to injury, his 2018 has been plagued by incredible inconsistency. He looked like vintage Rory when he obliterated the Sunday field at Bay Hill to take the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this year, but has just three top 10s on the PGA Tour this season.
He made the final Sunday pairing at The Masters, but with a win meaning the completion of the career Grand Slam, he shot a final round 74 to fade into fifth. A nightmare start at the U.S. Open meant a 10-over 80, and ten strokes better in round 2 was not enough to play the weekend. He might be the biggest wild card at The Open.
World Rank: 8th
2018 Majors: T5 (Masters), MC (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: 28, 12, MC, 8, 2, MC, 16
6. Justin Rose
World No. 3 and Olympic Gold Medal holder Justin Rose does not possess a sparkling Open Championship record, which is very surprising given that he burst onto the professional golf scene with a T4 as a 17-year-old amateur at the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale, but over the past 11 months, no golfer in the world has been playing well more consistently.
Since missing the cut at last year’s PGA Championship, Rose’s 22 starts worldwide have resulted in four victories among a remarkable 17 top 10s. He is as good of a bet as there is in the field to at least be competitive, and coming off four straight top 10s with his all-around game, he is also among the favorites to win.
World Rank: 3rd
2018 Majors: T12 (Masters), T10 (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: 9, 10, 6, 1, 23, 12, 52
5. Tommy Fleetwood
Extraordinarily motivated to win his first major, Fleetwood put a special kind of pressure on the Sunday leaders at the U.S. Open, posting a sizzling 7-under 63 that ended up being just one short stroke of forcing a playoff with Brooks Koepka.
The runner-up was the second time in as many years that the 27-year-old Fleetwood has contended at the U.S. Open, getting himself into the final Sunday pairing before a fourth place at Erin Hills in 2016.
Now, the reigning European Tour Race to Dubai Champion has arguably the best game among players who have yet to win a major. For the season, he has the seventh best scoring average on the PGA Tour, and over the past several years, Fleetwood has been consistently among the best in Europe at hitting fairways and greens.
At Shinnecock Hills, he led the field in driving accuracy, and was second in greens in regulation. If he comes anywhere close to that at Carnoustie, he is almost guaranteed the victory.
World Rank: 10th
2018 Majors: T17 (Masters), 2nd (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: MC, 59, 2, 23, 20, 7, MC
4. Henrik Stenson
Henrik Stenson talks with his caddie on the 11th tee during day three of the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York. Credit: Warren Little/Getty Images
The PGA Tour’s currently leader in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation, is a man who set a plethora of scoring records at The Open Championship just two years ago. That is Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who hit a stunning 20-under-par in his historically amazing performance at Royal Troon in 2016.
It remains the lone major championship for the 42-year-old, but he has largely maintained a stellar form and has the mental composition to contend in any event he plays. He does not play as often as a lot of his contemporaries, but his last seven starts have resulted in finishes of T26 or better, and his two major starts of 2018 have resulted in a T5 (The Masters) and a T6 (U.S. Open).
For a player who has finished in the top 3 at four Open Championships, that should all be scary for the rest of the field.
World Rank: 17th
2018 Majors: T5 (Masters), T6 (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: 6, 26, 13, 26, 13, 23, 5
3. Rickie Fowler
Does anyone need a victory this week more than Rickie Fowler? Perhaps not. The World No. 7 largely enjoys the reputation of a top-flight player, despite still sitting at zero major championships at 29 years of age.
His reputation and legacy are begging for a major, and he has come close many times, with eight top-5s in majors without a victory. He took solo-second to Patrick Reed at The Masters this year, looking exceptionally sharp in a 65-67 weekend. He also played good enough to win in three of the four rounds at the U.S. Open, with a Friday 69 and a Sunday 65 sandwiching a still-cringeworthy Saturday 84 on a day where the field average was in the high 70s.
He knows he’s close, and he knows he needs this. Fortunately, links golf has been a considerable strength of his, which he showcased with a runner-up finish at the 2014 U.S. Open at Royal Liverpool, and with his stellar history at the Scottish Open, a European Tour event he enters every year.
World Rank: 7th
2018 Majors: 2nd (Masters), T20 (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: 6, 12, 20, 8, 14, MC, 21
2. Dustin Johnson
The World No. 1 has looked worthy of his lofty ranking for most of 2018, finishing outside the top 17 just once in 12 starts. Also worthy of being one of the few players to primarily be called by their nickname, “DJ” has added two more victories this season, and now has 18 for his career. He also finished in the top 10 of both 2018 majors, posting a T10 at The Masters and a solo-third at the U.S. Open.
DJ stands alone atop the FedExCup Standings and leads the Tour in scoring average, birdie average, strokes gained: off-the-tee, and strokes gained: tee-to-green. Long a prime name on the list of best players without a major, he got the major monkey off his back at the 2016 U.S. Open, but he has little reason to get complacent on the biggest stages, as pressure builds to reach a number of major victories that is more commensurate with the rest of his accomplishments.
He has not contended at The Open Championship since finishing T2 to Darren Clarke in 2011, but he should be considered as much of a threat at Carnoustie that he is everywhere else: a very large one. There is a reason he is the betting favorite.
World Rank: 1st
2018 Majors: T10 (Masters), 3rd (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: 3, 1, 8, 17, 16, 10, 59
1. Brooks Koepka
When we last saw Koepka in action on the major stage, he was bar-none the most confident man at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first back-to-back winner of the U.S. Open since Curtis Strange in the early 90s.
Koepka has played in just one event since, posting four sub-70 rounds in a T19 effort at The Travelers more than three weeks ago, but last year, he did not play in any events between the U.S. Open and The Open Championship, and still played the stretch WIN-T6. The 28-year-old thrives in the most competitive of environments, and boasts a putting stroke that is unmatched among players who qualify as “bombers.”
Koepka is fearless and lacks any discernible weakness. If there is still anyone in the field who is not already afraid of him, they should be.
World Rank: 4th
2018 Majors: DNP/INJ (Masters), 1st (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: 19, 1, 30, 2, 11, 42, 33
OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP POWER RANKINGS: SLEEPER PICKS
World Rank: 84th
2018 Majors: DNQ (Masters), T41 (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: 6, 2, 44, 41, 8, 43, 65
World Rank: 28th
2018 Majors: MC (Masters), T45 (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: 15, 45, 4, MC, 23, 7, MC
World Rank: 16th
2018 Majors: 19th (Masters), T16 (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: MC, 16, 13, 16, MC, 76, 19
World Rank: 27th
2018 Majors: T28 (Masters), MC (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: MC, MC, 13, 32, MC, 17, 51
World Rank: 70th
2018 Majors: DNQ (Masters), DNQ (U.S. Open)
Last Seven: 32, 3, 8, 33, 60, MC, 5