Golf may be you vs. the course, but the end result is you vs. everyone else. That is what we do here with our Devil Ball Power Rankings, a glimpse at who is currently hot on tour, that will run every three weeks during the PGA Tour season. These are the top 10 golfers currently playing, with nothing factoring in except the present golfing world.
1.) Phil Mickelson: What more can you say? After struggling for most of the season, Lefty caught fire at Augusta National, winning his third Masters title, fourth major championship and erasing anything that happened earlier this year. He also showed that like Tiger earlier this decade, no matter how he’s hitting his tee ball, Phil can still post low scores in big tournaments, especially when that tournament is being held at a little gem in Georgia.
2.) Anthony Kim: Fun to watch from start to finish at Augusta, AK’s Sunday 65 showed that he is the most likely youngster to take home a major championship in the very near future. Want to talk about clutch? Kim made a bomb for eagle on 15, another lengthy putt for birdie on 16 and capped it off with a great par save on 18 to at least give the leaders something to think about as they finished off the last few holes.
3.) Hunter Mahan: A win already this season in Phoenix, Mahan added a top-10 at the Masters, his third top-10 in his last four major championships. We all knew he'd be great in the big events, it just seems like his time is quickly approaching.
4.) Tiger Woods: One tournament back, one top-5 for the human roller coaster ride. If anything, Woods showed that he is always, always a threat at any tournament no matter the layoff. A made putt here or there and we could be talking about how Tiger pushed Phil to one of the all-time best playoffs in golf history. If Tiger isn’t your pick to win at Pebble Beach, you obviously weren’t paying much attention to the golf tournament on Sunday.
5.) Fred Couples: I joked earlier this year that if Freddy kept up the form he showed on the Champions Tour, he might be a captain’s pick at the 2010 Ryder Cup. Now, after his performance at Augusta, it can’t be a joke. Couples was routinely the longest hitter on any of the holes over the weekend at the Masters, and continues to play steady, error-free golf. Now, if only someone could teach him how to keep the darn ball left on the 12th.
6.) Ernie Els: The FedEx Cup points leader might not have won at the Masters, but he still finished in the top 20, keeping him ahead of most anyone on tour right now. A final round 68 helped vault him up the leaderboard, but anytime Els leaves Augusta jacket-less, he's going to be bummed.
7.) Lee Westwood: We all know the scene in "Rounders" when Teddy KGB complains about Mikey "haaanging around." That was Westwood on Sunday at Augusta. He didn't have his best stuff, and made some mistakes on the front nine, but he hung around until Mickelson finally ran away from the field. Is Westwood the new Colin Montgomerie; tons of talent but just not able to take home the big one? With three straight top-3 finishes in majors, you'd have to think he's due to walk away a winner eventually.
8.) Ian Poulter: A sneaky top-10 for Poulter, who looked to have a chance before the weekend hit.
9.) Nick Watney: Watney's Sunday 65 included eight birdies, and showed that although he is known to win, he doesn't get nearly enough credit for the level of talent he has on tour. Maybe one of the most underrated young players in the game today.
10.) Steve Stricker: Not his best week but not his worst, Stricker is still playing as well as anyone this season to date. In recent years he's had some success in U.S. Opens, so maybe Pebble is the place for Stricker to strike (See what I did there?).