Looking at power rankings is always an interesting way to gauge the strength of the field right before a big event, so we decided to take a look at what was going on with the Northern Trust Open. It’s still early in the PGA Tour season, but rankings do a lot more than look at just one season. The list that we found takes into account performances over the last couple years, as well as how particular players have done on this course in the past. As a true golf fan, these kinds of things are interesting, and they can help all of us appreciate the game that much more.
In order, these are the top five ranked golfers for the NTO.
1.) Jordan Spieth. Spieth doesn’t need much introduction. He’s the top ranked golfer in the world, just starting to get his season in full swing after taking it lightly for a few months. He hasn’t really shown yet this year that he’s in top shape, but that also doesn’t matter. He’s number one in the world for a reason, and he’s allowed to take his time getting back at it. The first Major is still a couple months away, so even if he doesn’t perform well here, the season is just starting. Spieth did comment that his performance last weekend—a T21 finish at Pebble Beach against a weak field—was mostly because he came into the tournament too cocky and suffered as a result of this. Even though the Tour was weak last week, it was still much stronger than anything Spieth had seen so far this season. He knows what he did wrong, and seems like he’s willing to fix it. He should do well here.
2.) Hideki Matsuyama. Matsuyama had a great last half of last year, and so far this has been a good season for him. Matsuyama finished T4 at this one last year, and he won the Phoenix Open earlier this year. He’s a legitimate force to be reckoned with here.
3.) J.B. Holmes. Holmes does well on this course, and over his last three starts he’s had two T6 finishes, and a T11. If that doesn’t spell momentum, nothing does. He doesn’t have a great track record over the past year, but Holmes has come on strong this season and a top ten finish here seems pretty likely.
4.) Charl Schwartzel. Schwartzel is not a huge name on the PGA Tour, but he does really well at this event. This is his first PGA event of the year, but he’s already won two tournaments on the European Tour, including a win last weekend in South Africa. Schwartzel finished in the top five at this event in both 2013 and 2014. This plus his current momentum equals strong potential. He has a lot of dark horse power, and could be a good pick on a fantasy golf roster if you can find him for cheap. That shouldn’t be too tough since he’s pretty under the radar right now.
5.) Rory McIlroy. McIlroy is ranked number two in the world, right behind Spieth. However, McIlroy had a rough year last year, fighting injuries and never returning to top form. Hopefully this is behind him, but there’s no way to know for certain. McIlroy played in two United Arab Emirates events lately, doing well in both, but not having the stamina to stay a contender for all four rounds. He is a great player, but not at full strength. He’s also never played on this course before, which isn’t a huge mark against him. It doesn’t help his case for cracking into the top three here, though.