The PGA Tour's Florida swing of tournaments is underway which means the golf season is truly getting going. With Tiger Woods’ future in question, the future of American golf is in question as well.
There is still a large amount of talent that was born in the states teeing off on tour, however. The Masters are set to begin April 9 and by then there will be a clearer picture of who might be ascending to the top of the game. Below is a preliminary ranking of the top 10 American players in 2015. Keep an eye on these golfers as the year progresses.
1. Bubba Watson – He is almost unquestionably the top American and ranked No. 2 in the world behind Rory McIlroy. He’s known for his long drives, but has begun to put the rest of his game together. He’s a solid 26th on tour in strokes gained by putting (.578) in 2015. A well-rounded Watson is hard to beat.
2. Jordan Spieth – The 21-year-old is an absolute star-in-the-making who plays remarkably consistent golf. He is a consummate professional and finished in the top seven in his last two tournaments. He could very well be the future of American golf.
3. Jimmy Walker – Walker looked like a lost cause before famously joining up with swing coach Butch Harmon. His career has been revived by Harmon’s guidance. His length is remarkable and he has started to put together a complete game. Walker won the Sony Open in Hawaii in January and is currently first in FedEx Cup points. Don’t be surprised if Walker is in contention on most Sundays.
4. Jim Furyk – The 44-year-old veteran has been playing regularly on tour since 1994 and is consistently a solid player. Furyk’s funky-but-reliable swing and savvy play makes him a regular atop leaderboards. Last year he drove the ball a paltry 279.3 yards (155th) but was still third in total strokes-gained.
5. Rickie Fowler – One of the bright young stars in the game, Fowler has yet to win a major but has done just about everything else. The 2014 Ryder Cup team member has 34 career PGA Tour top ten finishes.
6. Patrick Reed – Like Fowler, Reed is a good young player who has made some major splashes. He really stood out in the 2014 Ryder Cup going 3-0-1 as perhaps the best American in a disappointing effort for the US. Reed has continued to play well and won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January.
7. Brooks Koepka – Koepka burst onto the scene toward the end of last season and into this year. He won at the Turkish Airlines open toward the end of 2014, earned the European Tour’s 2014 Rookie of the Year Award and then won the Waste Management Phoenix Open in early February. Koepka has three top ten finishes in just four 2015 PGA events. His long driving and dominance on Par 5s give him a chance to score really low in every round.
8. Dustin Johnson – Johnson has looked great since his return from a leave of absence (or perhaps suspension). He is the longest hitter on tour in 2015 (315.5 yard driving distance), and if he can put the rest of his game together, he’ll be hard to stop. He already earned a second place finish in 2015 at the Northern Trust Open after going to a playoff with James Hahn.
9. Phil Mickelson – Lefty hasn’t been playing well. But he has won 42 times on the PGA tour and his game isn’t too far off. He missed the cut at his last two tournaments but you have to bet on one of the greats putting it together and returning to competitive form.
10. Tiger Woods – Woods has been terrible recently. In fact, he is in the middle of a leave of absence just attempting to find his game. But at the end of the day he’s Tiger Woods, winner of 79 PGA tournaments and 14 majors. He is also just one season removed from being Player of the Year in 2013. Like Mickelson, until it is ridiculously clear that he is done, it’s hard to count out Woods. Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and countless other Americans might deserve this spot and are certainly playing better golf than Woods right now. But Woods is a legend and has earned the benefit of the doubt. When he comes back, he might still be terrible, but he might be great again.