April 13, 2011
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 occasionally during the PGA Tour season (and now included a hint of the European Tour). These are the top-10 golfers currently playing after the first major championship, with nothing factoring in except the present golfing world.
1. Charl Schwartzel: When you make four birdies to end a Masters that you win, you're the hottest player in the world, no matter what you've done before this. Also, it isn't like Charl has hacked it around in 2011 up to this point; in all six PGA Tour events he's played this year, he's made a check, including four top-25s.
2. Luke Donald: Already a winner at the match play earlier this season, Donald tried his hardest to break that nasty Par-3 Contest curse at the Masters with a chip-in birdie on the final hole that got him within smelling distance of the green jacket. His tie for fourth was only his fourth top-five in a major ever, so it looks like good things are on the horizon for Donald.
3. Martin Laird: The Scotsman went into the Masters as one of the hottest players in the game, after a tenth place finish at the Cadillac Championship, a tie for fifth at the Transitions and then a win at Bay Hill. His top-20 at the Masters was his best finish ever in a major.
4. Gary Woodland: A win at the Transitions Championship a month ago after weekend 67s, Woodland followed it up with a tie for 13th at the Shell Houston Open and then his best finish ever in a major championship, when he finished 24th at the Masters.
5. Matt Kuchar: Remember in 2010, when Kuchar finished the season with 11 top-10 finishes, and it seemed that there was no way he'd continue such a streak? Well he is, in a big way. Kuchar has six top-10s already this year in nine events, and although he didn't play as well as he would have wanted at Augusta National, with a tie for 27th, it was his second top-30 at the Masters in two seasons.
6. Phil Mickelson: He won in Houston, he didn't win in Augusta, but he hung around for most of the week without his A or B games. Mickelson's win two weeks ago showed that, again, when Phil gets hot, he is arguably the best player in the game. Look for him to make some noise in the coming months if he can get that driver to straighten out.
7. Adam Scott: Maybe not the name you'd think would make this list, but Scott nearly won the Masters after a tie for sixth at the Cadillac Championship. He is now playing at a course he won at a year ago, and seems to be rounding into shape with the new putting style.
8. Nick Watney: The bad news? His finish at the Masters, 46th, was the worst of his year. The good news? Other than that, he's finished in the top-13 in every tournament, with a win at Doral. Count the week at Augusta as an off week for Watney and nothing more. He seems to be having a career year, and will continue that if he can notch another victory before the summer ends.
9. Geoff Ogilvy: A work in progress for Ogilvy as his year continues to improve, and that was all highlighted at Augusta, with a tie for fourth. He has another top-10 at the Accenture Match Play, and seems to be coming into his own heading into the Players and the U.S. Open.
10. Mark Wilson: The leader of our initial 2011 power rankings, Wilson has maintained throughout the season after his two wins to start the year, and had a top-10 at Bay Hill before missing the cut at the Masters.