The Power 18 golf rankings: Rory McIlroy clearly ahead of pack as best golfer in the world

Since we've been without golf and are going to be for the foreseeable future, I've been doing some thinking -- maybe too much thinking, given how much time I've had on my hands. Something that popped into my mind is a curiosity as to why there's not a top 25 ranking in golf the way there is in college football and college basketball. I suppose we have the the Official World Golf Rankings, but that is all algorithmic and normally lags behind reality.

So for the first time in 2020 (and maybe the last!), I've put together a power ranking of the 18 best players in the world. I tried to not look at the OWGR to influence my decision and instead went more on recent performance at the highest level. No. 1 was easy, but it got a little wild after that.

Let's take a look at the first edition of the Power 18, which will be updated regularly ... once golf starts again.

1
Rory McIlroy
I've been semi-arguing that he's been playing the very best golf of his preposterous career. He only has one win to show for it this season -- the HSBC Champions in China last fall -- but he hasn't finished outside the top five in a PGA Tour event since before last college football season.    
2
Jon Rahm
It's a pretty clear 1-2 punch at the top right now. Rahm has lost a little bit of his momentum from the end of 2019 when he burned everything in sight, but for now, he remains closest to McIlroy.
3
I don't make the rules; I just follow them. DeChambeau is quietly having what might have been a breakout season. While he's won a lot in PGA Tour events, his major championship play has to this point been a disappointment. Feels like that was changing this year.    
4
That's right, Hatton as a top-five player in the world right now. He's gaining over three strokes per round on the field in his 16 measured PGA Tour rounds this year, which is a Tiger Woods-like number. To put that in perspective: McIlroy had the fourth-best strokes-gained season ever last year, and he gained 2.6.    
5
Justin Thomas
Weird start to his year with three top-six finishes but also two missed cuts. The first one at the Sony Open is easy to write off given that he was coming off that emotional Tournament of Champions win, but he also missed the weekend at the Genesis Invitational. He lives in my top three-ish and would be there if not for the MCs.    
6
His three-year trajectory is settling in for folks. he's first and third in his last two events and currently 12th in strokes gained. He's a star.    
7
Three top-three finishes in his last five. You could argue that this is the lowest he would have been had I been making this list for the last six months.     
8
Third in strokes gained tee to green this season, 63 in Round 1 at TPC Sawgrass. He was quietly starting to find a real groove. This layoff might adversely affect Matsuyama more than anyone.     
9
Tommy Fleetwood
I'm going to pretend like that Arnold Palmer Invitational missed cut and 78 in Round 1 at The Players were both aberrations!    
10
Patrick Cantlay
Big layoff after the Genesis Invitational, but he popped early at The Players Championship. Remains a star, even if we forget about him so often. 
11
Marc Leishman
Two top twos (including a win) in his last four starts. He was quietly building something to take to Augusta National.    
12
Daniel Berger
Berger is not the 2017 Presidents Cup participant I would have bet money being on this list at the start of 2020.    
13
Max Homa
We currently live in a world where Simpson, Homa, Im and Hatton are all much better at golf than Woods, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson. I don't know what to do with this.    
14
Adam Scott
Bit of a fade after winning two straight, but those wins linger. Especially the one at Riviera. He was a sneaky sleeper for the majors (all of them) in our pre-coronavirus world.     
15
Xander Schauffele
Nothing spectacular but four straight top 25s. He's been lurking with nothing to show for it. Still top 10 in strokes gained, continuing his trend from last season.
16
Gary Woodland
Trending in the proper direction. He's created a nice (high) floor for himself that will put him in every Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup conversation. Three top-15 finishes in five starts this year.     
17
I can't believe I'm saying this but ... he might be the best iron player in the world.    
18
I wanted to geet Tony Finau on here, but he's been fading since Phoenix. Instead, I'm including English, who is trending and is one of my very favorite ball-strikers in the world.    
CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories