Breakthrough winners were a theme during the 2015 portion of the 2015-16 PGA TOUR schedule. This first update to the preseason top 125 reflects those successes. Before we dive head first into the updated rankings, let’s go over the process of compiling volume two.
With the wraparound schedule no longer new, we know what we can expect. Most of the big guns will show up once or twice, with the no-cut WGC-HSBC Champions the most likely culprit. They may play well or they may not, but hit has zero impact on how they will fare when Magnolia Lane shows up on the GPS. With that, don’t expect to see a lot of negative movement from the stars.
The fall is an excellent opportunity for the 50 Web.com Tour grads to get off on the right foot and secure a nice reshuffle position going forward. It’s an even better chance for us to evaluate the rookies to see how their theoretical promise translates when applied. Those that stepped have been rewarded in the rankings.
While the guys at the top of the FedExCup standings at this point in the show are well-positioned for a deep run in the Playoffs, a guy ranked 20th hasn’t even come close to locking up 126-150 status for next season. That means don’t get too worked up about a guy sitting 24th in the standings in a good or a bad way. It’s a nice start, but his work is far from done.
Finally, it’s important to remember that a ton of research went into the original top 125. While there is some jostling for position going on, it’s way too early to completely throw the baby out of with the bath water for those that started slowly.
Alrighty then. Here we go!
Rank Golfer (Previous Rank) Comment
1 Jordan Spieth (1) What’s there to say?
2 Rory McIlroy (2) Hold your breath. He’s engaged again.
3 Jason Day (3) Third member of the big three.
4 Bubba Watson (4) It’s Silly Season stuff, but he won the Hero World Challenge and looks ready for a solid campaign.
5 Dustin Johnson (5) Nothing to report, which is actually a good thing given his penchant for making all types of news over the last few years.
6 Rickie Fowler (6) A couple of top 25s in as many tries, but we all know that his real impact comes in the heart of the schedule.
7 Justin Rose (7) Picked up a top 10 in his only PGA TOUR start thus far. Also won in Hong Kong.
8 Kevin Kisner (26) We expected big things, including his first win at some point this season, but leading the FEC standings at this stage of the game was an added bonus.
9 Patrick Reed (15) Ended 2015 with six consecutive top 10s across the globe including two runner-up finishes in non-PGA TOUR events.
10 Hideki Matsuyama (9) Good example of a guy dropping in the rankings without being faded. He played well to end 2015, but Kisner and Reed were a little better.
11 Justin Thomas (16) Get used to him.
12 Henrik Stenson (8) This is what happens when you show up in my Twitter feed pictured in a hospital bed.
13 Zach Johnson (10) He’s barely played enough to stay sharp, so his unimpressive results really don’t matter.
14 Brooks Koepka (11) Didn’t play well in his two TOUR starts, but a T2 in the Alfred Dunhill Links and a seventh in Tiger’s tourney don’t have us concerned one bit.
15 Russell Knox (40) He was building towards his first win for the better part of the last two seasons, so this was not a surprise by any stretch. What was a surprise was that his breakthrough came at a WGC and he followed it up with a T2 the very next week.
16 Jimmy Walker (12) Didn’t show up with his A-game in the fall, so there is more pressure on him to rake in the cash in Hawaii and on the West Coast Swing to sustain his value to gamers.
17 Paul Casey (19) Have to really admire his commitment to sticking to a full PGA TOUR schedule and giving up on the Ryder Cup by passing on Euro Tour membership.
18 Graeme McDowell (81) A very pleasant surprise for his full-season owners when he finished the fall with a win and a third. There was virtually no warning that was coming when it did.
19 Kevin Na (25) All he did was almost win a couple of times to end 2015 ranked sixth in the FEC standings, tops among non-winners.
20 Emiliano Grillo (57) With near-misses when holding no status in 2014-15 in his background, a win to start the new season shouldn’t have floored anyone.
21 Matt Kuchar (13) Not much good going on for the veteran. Still tons of time to get it in gear, but it’s time to start wondering if either age or lack of hunger are catching up to him.
22 Jim Furyk (17) There’s not a good reason as to why I have him this low, so I won’t pretend to come up with a bad one.
23 Bill Haas (18) Just have to trust he’ll end up in his usual range.
24 Brandt Snedeker (17) Ended 2015 with three consecutive missed cuts across the globe, so keep an eye on that.
25 Sergio Garcia (20) Playing fine and won a non-TOUR event (in Vietnam) nobody’s ever heard of late in the year.
26 Charl Schwartzel (41) Given his historic schedule, his T6 at the Frys.com Open was a pleasant surprise to owners. Cautious optimism for a big season is fair.
27 Russell Henley (30) Two top 10s in three starts to begin the new season.
28 Jason Bohn (48) Second only to Na in terms of guys that played extremely well without a win to start the season.
29 Charley Hoffman (24) Missed both his cuts to start the season. Not a huge concern given his heavy schedule in 2014-15.
30 Ryan Palmer (27) Similar to Hoffman in that there is no reason to waver from preseason expectations.
31 Robert Streb (21) Made some cuts to start the new season, but his real highlight was a T4 in the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Look at him, going globetrotter on us.
32 Patrick Rodgers (51) He’s got some catching up to do relative to the rest of the high school class of 2011, but two top 10s/three top 15s have him trending towards that first win soon enough.
33 Billy Horschel (22) Reasons to fade him and to be patient. You pick.
34 Daniel Berger (29) Has to be a bit bummed to see so many first-time winners in the early stages of 2015-16 and not be among them, but his time is coming.
35 Adam Scott (68) Putter will be an adventure all year, but runner-up at CIMB Classic with a short wand forced a move in the ranks.
36 J.B. Holmes (23) Didn’t play between the TOUR Championship and the Hero World Challenge (T8).
37 Smylie Kaufman (NR) Came up aces with a win in Vegas. Great start to the rookie campaign.
38 Gary Woodland (28) Rather uninspiring start to the new season.
39 Chris Kirk (33) May have needed the long holiday break more than anyone. May have rushed back from injury a bit late in the summer, so the extra rest and/or practice are a good thing.
41 Phil Mickelson (34) The story here is that he’s outside of the top 30 in the OWGR for the first time since Spieth could walk.
42 Danny Lee (38) One of the TOUR’s iron horses kept it fairly light late in the season, which could prove very valuable when the heart of the schedule beginning in April.
43 Louis Oosthuizen (37) There is always his penchant for injuries to consider when slotting him into any ranking or lineup.
45 Tony Finau (36) Sort of like with Furyk, there’s no really good reason why he should have faded this far.
46 Charles Howell III (70) Welcome back, Chucky! Four top 20s in five starts to begin 2015-16 and it’s not even confirmed that he made it on TV.
47 William McGirt (93) A T2 at Sanderson Farms Championship came days before he became a father for the second time.
48 Patton Kizzire (56) Last year’s Web.com Tour star had two top-four finishes early in the season. No reason to think he won’t have a big 2016.
49 Ryan Moore (32) Well, he didn’t win the CIMB Classic for the first time since calendar-year 2012. If you were banking on those dollars and points, he’s got some ground to make up for you.
50 Scott Piercy (39) Everything looks to be moving along nicely as evident with a T7 at the CIMB Classic to highlight the early portion of his schedule.
51 Brendan Steele (42) Missed two cuts, but a T3 and a T17 in the other two starts make him well worth an investment.
52 Cameron Tringale (64) Made all three cuts, with a T2 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open counting for his latest close call at a breakthrough victory.
53 Marc Leishman (43) Went T29-T11 in the CIMB Classic and WGC-HSBC in his only PGA TOUR sanctioned starts of the new season, but ended the calendar year with a win in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
54 Brendon Todd (44) Only made one of four cuts in the fall in the form of a T26 in the Frys.com Open. Not to panic, as his best golf will likely come in the late spring or early summer.
55 Daniel Summerhays (61) He is who we thought he was. Made all four cuts and snared a couple of top 20s.
56 Matt Jones (46) Slow start to the PGA TOUR season, but winning the Australian Open should have him in good spirits for 2016.
57 Hunter Mahan (50) Hasn’t played since a T19 in the WGC-HSBC Champions, so perhaps he’ll be rested and ready to conquer the TOUR in January.
58 Freddie Jacobson (NR) Solo fifth at Sea Island fulfilled the obligations of his Major Medical Extension, changing the outlook on the remainder of his season entirely.
59 Brian Harman (55) A T7 at the CIMB Classic was his only finish of note in five starts to kick off 2015-16.
60 Spencer Levin (108) Three top 25s during a heavy fall schedule (five starts) has him on track for a nice season.
61 Will Wilcox (65) Feast-or-famine fall with a T17 and a T10 to go with a MC and a WD. Throw in a T7 in the Dunlop Phoenix Open and his prospects are still strong.
62 Branden Grace (69) Top fives in three of his last five worldwide starts, including a T5 in the WGC-HSBC. It will be a math game with the South African, with more starts obviously equating to higher value.
63 Roberto Castro (123) Made all five cuts to start the season including a T4 in the Sanderson Farms Championship. Wasn’t that long ago that he made it to East Lake.
64 Ben Martin (47) A T25 in his Shriners defense was followed up with a T47 at the CIMB before a long break.
65 Kevin Streelman (59) Some good, some bad. It’s what we know to expect by now.
66 Alex Cejka (NR) What was I thinking in September? Responded with a T2 at TPC Summerlin and a T6 on Sea Island.
67 David Lingmerth (49) A T14 in the CIMB Classic was his only top 60 in three TOUR starts, but a T9 at the Australian PGA Championship to end the year was nice.
68 Shane Lowry (53) A T68 in the WGC-HSBC was his only TOUR start, so expect him to play around the minimum of 15.
69 Shawn Stefani (54) Unimpressive in the fall, but same story a year ago. No reason to bail just yet.
70 Brendon de Jonge (72) Made four of five cuts with two top 30s. Familiar start to the season.
71 Boo Weekley (71) Yes, Boo, we all know you would rather be hunting of fishing than figuring out how to manage a wraparound schedule, but your owners thank you for a couple of top 20s to end the year.
72 Francesco Molinari (58) Kept it very light overall following the birth of a child late in the summer, failing to log a PGA TOUR start.
73 Keegan Bradley (35) I really don’t trust him anymore with the short putter. He’s not the same player that rallied Ryder Cup crowds or won a major without the long wand.
74 Steven Bowditch (62) Didn’t play all that well in the fall, but it doesn’t really matter. Texas and Greenbrier are where he should rack up his points.
75 Nick Watney (63) Made three cuts, highlighted by a T11 in Vegas. Decent start, but nothing about which to write home.
76 Pat Perez (66) Expect him to log plenty of starts on the West Coast Swing, so now is a good time to buy.
77 Ian Poulter (60) He’s not even warmed up yet.
78 Peter Malnati (NR) Won the Sanderson Farms Championship and backed it up with a T10 in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. Has one of the best attitudes on TOUR.
79 Luke Donald (67) Back with his old coach and expecting a better 2015-16 than 2014-15.
80 Jason Dufner (75) Four stats in the fall schedule were highlighted by a T9 at The RSM Classic. That was his only top 30 despite making three cuts.
81 Sean O’Hair (73) Good start to the new campaign, making two out of three cuts, with both going for top 30s.
82 Graham DeLaet (74) The best news here is that he was healthy enough to make three starts.
83 Anirban Lahiri (76) Participated in the two Asian events on the PGA TOUR, but didn’t scratch the top 20 in either.
84 Scott Brown (84) We expect him to show up on leaderboards when the fields are weak, and he didn’t disappoint with a T5 in Mayakoba.
85 Morgan Hoffmann (83) Made two of three cuts with a T11 in the Shriners Hospital for Children Open.
86 George McNeill (77) Missed his only two TOUR cuts of the new season, but he’s a Florida Swing guy anyway.
87 Lucas Glover (115) Putter didn’t cripple him in the fall and that resulted in the former U.S. Open winner cashing in three of four events, including a T17 and a T9.
88 Johnson Wagner (114) Made his last six cuts beginning with The Barclays and including four in the new season.
89 Jim Herman (99) The former Trump employee is riding as high as his old boss right now, ranking 28th in the current FedExCup standings. HUUUUUGE!
90 Jon Curran (119) Ended the year with a fourth-place finish in The RSM Classic.
91 Brett Stegmaier (NR) Barely made it to the Web.com Tour Finals in the first place, and then skated through to earn a PGA TOUR card. Responded by making all five cuts including a T2 in Vegas.
92 Webb Simpson (45) Was 34th in strokes gained: putting in 2013-14, 174th in 2014-15 and 178th in 2015-16. Translation: He’s screwed.
93 Rory Sabbatini (78) Made three of four cuts with one top 25, which does very little to change our long-term prospects for the season.
94 Zac Blair (79) A T10 in Mayakoba was his only real highlight of the fall. It was a fitting place for him to be successful as he’s known to play well on shorter courses.
95 Matt Every (82) This all comes down to how much faith you want to place on his shoulders at Bay Hill this year.
96 Scott Stallings (98) Impossible to predict weekly, but a T16 at TPC Summerlin and a T9 on Sea Island confirm that his preseason expectations weren’t too lofty.
97 Martin Laird (85) Be patient for a bit.
98 Jerry Kelly (87) Experience tells us that he’ll finish at least this high in the regular season FEC standings. Made all three cuts, but nothing impressive.
99 Chris Stroud (94) The T10 in the Frys.com Open was exciting, but a missed cut on the OHL Classic at Mayakoba was equally shocking.
100 David Toms (129) A T2 in the Sanderson Farms Championship proves he can still get it done. The big question is his focus and commitment.
101 Kyle Reifers (104) A T6 in the Frys.com Open to begin the season was his only top 40 in five starts, but it was a big one.
102 James Hahn (89) Only made two starts, but a sixth at the CIMB Classic was a nice way to end 2015.
103 Harold Varner III (NR) A T5 at Mayakoba and a P2 in the Australian PGA Championship (non-PGA TOUR start) show an accelerated learning curve.
104 Derek Fathauer (NR) Finished fourth at Mayakoba. Perhaps fulfilling his potential a year later than expected and after we somewhat wrote him off.
105 John Senden (88) Has to be a great value if he falls to you anywhere outside of the top 100.
106 Hudson Swafford (100) Two quiet top 25s in five starts to begin the 2015-16 season.
107 Jason Kokrak (110) Following an awful finish to the 2014-15 season, he answered with an early pair of top 20s on the new campaign.
108 Colt Knost (91) Cashed in all four starts, but none were top 35s.
109 Bryce Molder (92) Three missed cuts to go with an opposite-field T4 in Mississippi.
110 Chad Campbell (NR) Could be up for a career renaissance with two top 10s in the early sledding.
111 Michael Kim (NR) Past amateur stud made all five of his cuts to kick off 2015-16.
112 David Hearn (107) One of the few guys that kept the anchored putter right up until the bitter end. Had a great fall, but expectations have to be tempered until we understand how he will compete with a regulation putter.
113 Jhonattan Vegas (NR) Found something to start the season. This is tricky because he has only Past Champion status, but he looked great with a T4 in Mississippi and a T25 in The RSM Classic.
114 Tyrone Van Aswegen (NR) A T3 at the Frys.com Open was a pleasant surprise and was followed by four more paydays.
115 Troy Merritt (90) Went 1-for 3 with a T21 at the CIMB Classic.
116 Jamie Donaldson (95) No starts in PGA TOUR sanctioned events as of yet, but a win in Thailand in his last start of 2015 has him riding high. Expect the minimum of 15 starts.
117 Ryo Ishikawa (96) Not much going on early in the 2015-16 PGA TOUR season, but finished 2nd-1st in his last two worldwide starts to end the year.
118 Adam Hadwin (101) Two-for-four with no top 25s to slump out of the gates in the new season. Trust him to produce better down the road.
119 Tom Hoge (113) Made four of his five cuts in the fall, but a T9 at The RSM Classic was his only top 60.
120 Jamie Lovemark (124) If his T13 in Las Vegas and T9 in Sea Island are any indication, this could finally be the year that he sticks.
121 Scott Pinckney (103) On sophomore-slump alert with no top 50s in five starts to begin the 2015-16 campaign.
122 Kyle Stanley (106) Made two cuts. Missed two cuts. Jury still out.
123 Ben Crane (NR) A T29 in the CIMB Classic and a T32 in the Fyrs.com Open represent two of his best three finishes in calendar-year 2015. Perhaps the arrow is moving up.
124 Greg Owen (111) Slow start, barely hanging on to a spot inside the top 125.
125 Jeff Overton (NR) Fitting that T6 in Georgia to end the year lands him here, as he has hung around the all-important 125 number his last few years on TOUR.
Next 10 (Previous Rank): John Peterson (102), Hiroshi Iwata (105), Chesson Hadley (109), Stewart Cink (112), Chez Reavie (121), Ricky Barnes (NR), Michael Thompson (122), Steve Marino (120), Jonas Blixt (116) and Si Woo Kim (NR).
We will likely return for the third edition of the top 125 around the end of the West Coast Swing and the start of the Florida Swing. Until then, best of luck to all!