THE PLAYERS Championship - Final Round
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After nine wins in his last 51 starts worldwide, including two Arnold Palmer Invitationals, two Phoenix Opens, a Masters and back-to-back Players Championships, the time has come for us to do the thing we love to do with golf greats: compare them to the best from previous eras. 

So, it's time to have a Scottie Scheffler-Tiger Woods discussion.

There are essentially six golfers who can claim to be the best player since Tiger's run of dominance ended in the late 2000s. Those players are Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Scheffler. You could feasibly talk me into Justin Thomas, but I don't believe he's risen to the level of play the other six have.

The easiest to eliminate here is Spieth. He has struggled off and on since 2017, and even though he has one more major than J.T., they are more or less the same golfer. Both have 16 wins. Both have right at 1.5 strokes per round. You would not be able to tell their broader statistical profiles apart, and if we're not even including J.T. in the conversation, then we can't make Spieth the best post-Tiger player.

So, that leaves five.

Here's a look at those players and their worldwide profiles, per Data Golf. You'll notice that total wins is not the same as PGA Tour wins. Scheffler won his eighth PGA Tour event on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass, but he also has one unofficial win (Hero World Challenge) and two Korn Ferry Tour victories.

GolferEventsSGBest SGWinsTop 10sMajors

Jon Rahm




19 (11%)

96 (55%)


Rory McIlroy




33 (9%)

182 (51%)


Scottie Scheffler




11 (8%)

64 (44%)


Dustin Johnson




28 (8%)

138 (40%)


Brooks Koepka




19 (7%)

80 (31%)


How you sort these five depends on what you care about. 

I sorted them by strokes gained, which actually lines up perfectly with their winning percentages. Rahm has the best per-round strokes gained number since Jan. 1, 2008. McIlroy is second and so on. Humorously, Tiger is actually third out of everyone, but we're excluding him from the conversation because we're comparing everyone to him.

A few thoughts:

  • Best SG is whatever a player's 150-round peak is, according to Data Golf. Scheffler's 150-round peak is actually happening right now, which is fourth-best of anyone in the last 25 years behind Tiger, Vijay Singh and David Duval. Scheffler has a chance to catch Singh and Duval but no shot at Tiger, who, at his peak, was a shot better per round than Scheffler is currently.
  • However, Scottie's last five tournaments have produced a Tiger-like 3.74 true SG. That's still slightly below where Tiger was at for his 150-round peak (3.89 SG), but it's getting closer.
  • Rahm's top-10 percentage is a joke. He top 10s over 50 percent of the time he plays?! To be fair to the other players, there are some European Tour and now some LIV Golf events mixed in there, but still ... come on.
  • For McIlroy and Johnson to do what they have done over 350 events each is wild. Rahm is only halfway there in terms of total tournaments played, and Scheffler isn't even halfway. Longevity matters when you're talking about greatness, and Rory and D.J. have it.
  • Brooks is complicated, man. No surprise there, I guess, but the "worst" statistically of the five also has the most majors. What do we do with that? I'm not of the opinion that majors are all that matters. I think it matters that Scheffler has two Players Championships and that D.J. has won Riviera and Kapalua and that Rory has three FedEx Cups. But does it outweigh five majors? I don't know about that.
  • Here's what the career wins evolution of each player has looked like (PGA Tour victories only). As you can see, Scheffler is starting to make a bit of a leap ahead of where Koepka, D.J. and Rahm were at a similar point in their careers.
Data Golf

Technically speaking, Scottie's best is the best we've seen since Tiger. Whether that makes him the best player since Tiger is a different question. He's not the most accomplished. That would be McIlroy or Koepka. But, the trajectory is good. Trajectories are about as worthless as the paper they're printed on, though. All that matters is what actually happens.

The part that intrigues me is that, stylistically, Scheffler is perhaps the most similar to Woods of these five. They both play disciplined, committed golf that some label boring. Fairways and greens. Tiger was a better putter (it truly is not fair that in addition to his other gifts, Tiger was one of the great putters of all time), but in terms of how methodically they go about dissecting a tournament and its field? It's certainly not as exciting as Rory or probably even D.J., but it is often less chaotic, which makes it more replicable.

This is not a Jason Day-like run in 2015-16 when he was making every putt he looked at under 65 feet. This is more or less just who Scheffler is as a player. He's putted fine recently, but again, he's won the last two Players while not even being a top-25 putter in either week.  

What will be interesting is how Scheffler handles all of this. How he proceeds into the future. 

Life gets complicated. All of this gets more difficult. It gets tiring. Scheffler spoke before the Players about how it's tougher to stay at No. 1 than it is to get there to begin with, and everyone who has been in that position before would agree. 

Scheffler's superpower, though, is his clarity of mind. He doesn't get muddled with all the hoopla. He stays in his world and does his own thing. 

"I try not to get too into what we do out here," he said at the start of the week. "I think I attribute it mostly to my faith, but I also have a great upbringing. I have great parents. I have a great wife. We have great friends at home. So I'm surrounded by a lot of people that really don't care very much whether or not I won last week. It's great, we're going to celebrate, but at the end of the day, if I shot 75 on Sunday [at the Arnold Palmer Invitational], I think Monday would have looked pretty similar to how it looked this week besides maybe a few extra text messages in my phone that I received.

"But at the end of the day, life goes on, a lot more than just my golf score, and this is just one little phase of my life, and it just happens to be in front of an audience. But, outside of that, you know, home's a lot more important to me than out here."

That's the real problem for everyone else on the PGA Tour. Scheffler is disciplined and grounded on and off the course. And when you're disciplined and grounded on and off the course, you can maintain your baseline for a long, long time. Scottie's baseline just happens to be one of the best of the last quarter century.

Here's what I feel comfortable saying: I think Rory and Rahm are the two best golfers since Tiger Woods' reign as the unequivocal best player in the world ended. Koepka is the most decorated. That's hedging, but Koepka is somebody you have to hedge because he's such a strange figure to evaluate. 

Scheffler? The trajectory is excellent. He has not joined Rory and Rahm yet, but he's on his way. When your baseline is what his is, and when it seems this sustainable, then, whew, that is a real problem for everybody in the world who's not Scheffler. Could he win five times this year? Yes. Could he win more than that? Yes. Are multiple more majors on deck? It seems like, yes, that is the case!

To be clear here, I'm not comparing Scheffler (or any of these guys) to Tiger. Nobody should. Tiger's best was the best there's ever been, and it is not currently being surpassed by any of these guys, even with as impressive as Scheffler has been.

"I'm not going to remember the exact numbers, but, like, we're playing at Riv this year, and I hit my tee ball and this guy yells out, like, 'Congrats on being No. 1 Scottie. 11 more years to go,'" said Scheffler. "'Eleven more years to go.'

"Anytime you can be compared to Tiger I think is really special, but, I mean, the guy stands alone I think in our game. He really does. This is my eighth tournament win now out here, I've tied him in Players Championships. Outside of that, I got 14 more majors and 70-some PGA Tour events to catch up. So, I think I'm going to stick to my routine and just continue to plot along, try and stay as even keeled as I can.

"We all idolize Tiger. He's been our guy. Watching what he did in special moments over the years is crazy to watch. I've learned a lot just from being around him. We're just very thankful that he's still a part of our sport."

Scheffler is not going to catch Tiger, but he could feasibly catch the players who are trying to chase Tiger. That he's doing it in different and sustainable ways would be worrisome to me if I was one of those players. Is Scottie Scheffler the best player since Tiger Woods? No, not yet. You have to win more than one major to earn that title. But, he has the best trajectory of anybody we've seen since Rory McIlroy. Whether he can continue it is now one of the most interesting storylines to watch play out in golf.