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The Top 10 Golfers in the World: Who to Keep Your Eyes on in 2023

Published on 04/03/2023 · 10 min readGolfing Expert Adam Ditcher covers the current top 10 male golfers in the world so you know who to watch come each tournament, especially major championships.
By Golf Expert Adam Ditcher

Photo courtesy of TaylorMade

After a tumultuous 2022 in the men’s professional golf space, 2023 is shaping up to be a super interesting year. Last year, the golf media was dominated by the LIV Golf League and their sparring with the PGA Tour (to read more about that, see my article on LIV here). With LIV being more established this year and the PGA Tour doing major overhauls, it’s a good time to dive into the top ten players in the world and break down each player, the start they’ve had to 2023, and what to keep an eye out for going forward.

All rankings were as of March 22nd, 2023, and were taken from Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR). It is worth noting that the PGA Tour utilizes a wrap-around season and has for over a decade, so this season on tour actually started in late 2022.

10. Justin Thomas

After winning the PGA Championship in 2022 and cementing his legacy as a winner of more than one major, Justin Thomas came into 2023 with understandably high expectations. His play has not been bad thus far; Thomas has made the cut in all eight events he’s played this season and his best finish was 4th in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

While most tour pros would be thrilled with the start to the season Thomas has had, it has been pretty standard, considering he’s usually apt to contend on any given week he’s in the field. As we sneak up on the major championships, look for Thomas to round those T20 and T25 finishes into top 10s. Just a shot or two a round puts him right in the mix of things come April at Augusta, then he has a title to defend the following month.

9. Viktor Hovland

Another name that has yet to enter the winner’s circle in 2023, Viktor Hovland did win the Hero World Challenge at the end of 2022. Since then, his best finish is a T3 at the PLAYERS Championship, followed by a T10 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

After heating up in the Florida swing of the tour, at least in the two events he played, Hovland could be seen as an outside favorite to bring home a major this year. Given the start to the season that some of the other players in the Top 10 of the OWGR are having, it would be hard to make Hovland a field favorite in the Masters and beyond, but his consistent play and better form as of late definitely bodes well for his season just getting started.

8. Will Zalatoris

Will Zalatoris has arguably spent less time on the PGA Tour than his counterparts in the Top 10 of the OWGR, but his play last year has vaulted him up the rankings. After taking second at the PGA Championship last year to Justin Thomas in a playoff, as well as finishing T2 at the U.S. Open, Zalatoris has a game that can clearly hold its own at major championship tournaments.

That being said, he also missed the end of the last PGA Tour season with a back injury. His play since returning from injury hasn’t been as inspiring as his arguably unmatchable showings last year.

Zalatoris has only missed one cut this season and by no means has fallen off the face of the Earth in terms of performance. As he continues to show flashes of pre-injury play, such as a 4th place finish at The Genesis Invitational, it will be interesting to see where his game is as majors approach in the schedule.

7. Xander Schauffele

Xander continues our trend of Top 10 players who have yet to win this year. After starting the fall portion of the season strong with a T9 finish at the Zozo Championship, Xander’s performance has fallen off a bit as of late. He still has yet to miss a cut this year, although he did withdraw from the Sentry Tournament of Champions. His current FedEx Cup rank of 40th exemplifies that he has likely yet to play his best golf this season.

Xander’s case for a major this year is that he’s always around. At some point, it seems like he’s either in the lead, near the lead, or making a run in at least one major a year. There’s always solid play from him in the biggest tournaments and this author, for one, doesn’t put a crazy amount of stock in his performance thus far in the season. Come time for a drive down Magnolia Lane, Xander’s odds of bringing home a major will likely mirror other years of late. He has consistently shown that his name belongs among those golfers who show great promise to become major champions and this year should be no different.

6. Max Homa

We break the winless trend in 2023 with Max Homa. In fact, he has two wins in this current wrap-around PGA Tour season - the Fortinet Championship back in September 2022, as well as the Farmers Insurance Open at the end of January 2023. Homa also took T3 and the Sentry Tournament of Champions and 2nd at The Genesis Invitational.

His play has clearly been extraordinary and the results he has seen this year speak for themselves. In previous seasons, he wouldn’t have been in the conversation come major championship season, although his golf is never really that poor. However, in the midst of a career year, Homa has to be considered in the upper tier of favorites to bring home a major this season. He is definitely a player worth watching and the tear he has been on may only be bested by his fellow Top 10 players in the world.

5. Cam Smith

There’s a lot to unpack here. As previously mentioned, the 2022 media focus on LIV Golf dominated headlines. After a career year on the PGA Tour last year, which included a PLAYERS Championship win and winning the Open Championship (aka the British Open) at St. Andrews, Cam Smith made the jump to LIV Golf. Since all LIV Golf players are banned from the PGA Tour, European Tour (now known as the DP World Tour), and most other affiliated tours under the umbrella, we have yet to see Cam Smith play in the same field as his compatriots in the Top 10 in the OWGR during the 2023 calendar year.

So far in 2023, Cam Smith has finished 26th at the most recent LIV Golf event in Tucson, as well as 6th at the season opener at Mayakoba. His lone win since leaving for LIV Golf came in the Chicago event in 2022, the second to last event of the season for LIV Golf.

Not only will we see Smith at the majors since all four events decided to honor their field criteria, regardless of whether the player still being in good standing with the PGA Tour or not, but the majors will foreseeably be some of the only events that Smith plays this year that have OWGR points awarded. LIV Golf has yet to be onboarded by the OWGR, so none of their events offer points to help Smith keep his standing on this list. In fact, most of the other players who have made the move and didn’t have the career year Smith had in 2022 have seen a significant increase in their OWGR by virtue of not being able to earn points so far in 2023.

Despite the LIV vs. PGA Tour narrative that will inevitably continue at the majors, Smith bodes well to provide one of the best showings at the majors out of all of the LIV Golf players. It will be fascinating to see, given the limited schedule and variation between LIV and PGA Tour setups, how his 2023 season at the major championships will fare, along with the rest of his LIV Golf compatriots.

4. Patrick Cantlay

It is hard to exactly pinpoint Patrick Cantlay this season. His best finish is a T2 at the Shriners Children’s Open, with a 3rd at The Genesis Invitational and a T4 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational to boot. He also has only missed one cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. It is hard to be ranked 4th in the world without consistently good play.

That being said, he hasn’t really separated himself from the pack at the top of the OWGR. His most recent result was a T19 at The PLAYERS Championship. He is always one good week away from a new trophy and it’s hard to discount him going into the majors. Cantlay is another player who is a great model of consistently good play. He very well could be there on the weekend at a major this year.

3. Rory McIlroy

Rory has had a busy year and has been at the forefront of the PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf debate. Many were happy to see his game come into form last fall when he won The CJ Cup (his only fall start in the wrap-around season). He didn’t play on the PGA Tour in January and his most recent finish was a missed cut at The PLAYERS Championship. Rory typically will go play on the DP World Tour as well, where he did win the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at the end of January 2023.

Rory needs a win at Augusta to complete the career grand slam. Every year, he has a chance to do it, come April. Given that he did lead deep into The Masters at one point in his career, it’s clear he has what it takes to be in the mix come Sunday. His results at TPC Sawgrass were followed by a T2, so perhaps it was an off week, which even the 3rd ranked player in the world is allowed to have.

2. Jon Rahm

It is actually baffling that this is being written at a time when Rahm is not 1st in the world, because he has started the season about as good as any PGA Tour player could dream of. Having played eight events in the wrap-around season, he has won three of the six events he has completed, having withdrawn from The PLAYERS Championship with a stomach bug.

Rahm has won the Sentry Tournament of Champions, The American Express, and The Genesis Invitational this year. His other three results in 2023 are 3rd, T7, and T39. Five out of six top 10s with three wins is a blazing hot way to start the year. Rahm is easily a top contender to bring home a major in 2023 and the way he’s played this season backs up that theory. Watching him gear up to try to take the top spot in the world rankings back over the coming weeks will be nothing but entertaining golf.

1. Scottie Scheffler

Okay, so yes, Scottie does not have three wins this year on the PGA Tour... He only has two. One of those two, however, is The PLAYERS Championship, which is widely regarded as the highest-standing tournament outside of the major championships, although without any LIV Golf players this year at The PLAYERS, the fields at the majors will reflect a bit wider array of competitors in comparison to The PLAYERS than it used to.

Scheffler also won the Waste Management Phoenix Open as well this year, his first title defense on the PGA Tour. He has another title to defend in April at this little course you may have heard of called Augusta. He may not have won as much as Rahm this year, but it will be hard to bet against Scheffler in the majors this year given how well he’s been playing.

Clearly, there’s a lot going on in the world of professional men’s golf right now! Be sure to stay tuned into the action and reach out to myself or my fellow Curated Golfing Experts if all this action inspires you to pick up your clubs and work on your own game!

Adam Ditcher, Golf Expert
Adam Ditcher
Golf Expert
Having worked in the golf industry since I was sixteen and played since I was three years old, I have a deep respect and passion for the game, as well as for my customers..Happy to be a golf resource for you; let's see how we can help your game!
149 Reviews
2874 Customers helped
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Written by:
Adam Ditcher, Golf Expert
Adam Ditcher
Golf Expert
Having worked in the golf industry since I was sixteen and played since I was three years old, I have a deep respect and passion for the game, as well as for my customers..Happy to be a golf resource for you; let's see how we can help your game!
149 Reviews
2874 Customers helped

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