Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

There were questions swirling around Scottie Scheffler's game entering the Florida swing, but as the PGA Tour exits stage left for the first major championship of the season, those questions have turned into answers. Scheffler has tightened his grip around the top ranking and provided clear responses to any queries about any shortcomings.

Victories at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship have propelled Scheffler well past his counterparts, but one question does remain: Who is No. 2? His biggest competition in those two tournaments was none other than Wyndham Clark.

The reigning U.S. Open champion finished runner up to Scheffler at both Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass; as such, he has catapulted himself inside the top five of the Power 18 rankings. While Clark continues to surge, Rory McIlroy continues to search for his footing ahead of his 16th attempt at winning a green jacket.

Prone to a quick left miss and the big number in the early stages of 2024, McIlroy has yet to register a top 10 on the PGA Tour. He is not the only star to be on the lookout for form as the Masters approaches, though, as Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland have all been without their best stuff so far this season.

As for the man who is set to defend his Masters title, Jon Rahm continues to be Jon Rahm. A steady presence on LIV Golf, Rahm headlines a trio of players in the Power 18 from the 54-hole circuit, but it may not be who you'd expect. Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka were among those to narrowly miss out on this edition of the rankings, but that would change quickly if one were to slip on the green jacket in a couple weeks.

The Power 18 provides insight as to how golfers are currently performing with benefit given to their play over recent events. It is a wider lens than simply what happened at the last tournament to be played but more narrow than the Official World Golf Rankings, which take into account how more than 2,000 golfers perform across an entire season.

The Power 18

Scheffler is currently playing better than the 2022 and 2023 versions of himself. Registering just about +3.20 strokes gained per round in 2024, the world No. 1 clips the second-ranked player in this category by 0.70 strokes. The gap is widening thanks to his wins at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship, but there were some head-scratching moments at the Houston Open where he missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff. Scheffler did not look as sharp as usual, but he still finished runner up in what felt like a floor performance. He's the rightful heavy favorite to don his second green jacket. Previous: 1
The reigning Masters champion heads into his defense with a little less golf under his belt compared to 2023. Rahm will tee it up for the fifth time in 2024 at this week's LIV Golf Miami, and he hopes to continue a consistent start to his LIV tenure that has featured four straight top 10s. This time last year, the Spaniard was running through the golf world with win after win, and he may not be too far off from that form. Previous: 2
His consistency gets overshadowed by his close calls, but Schauffele has been the second-best player on the PGA Tour this season. He checks in at No. 2 in total strokes gained behind only Scheffler and is now approaching two years since his last missed cut at the 2022 Masters. Schauffele has registered six top 10s in eight starts, including a runner-up result at the Players Championship where he more than had his chances to win. Don't be surprised if he rights the wrongs from TPC Sawgrass at Augusta National. Previous: 3
I won't call him the best player in the world like some, but Niemann has made significant strides since the latter stages of 2023. The Chilean has captured three wins and four other top fives in his last eight starts thanks, in part, to adding some new shots to his repertoire. Capable of working the ball in both directions off the tee, Niemann has all the tools to contend at Augusta National where he finished T16 a season ago. Previous: Not ranked
There's a world out there (one without Scheffler) where Clark has five wins in less than 12 months. Losing only to the top man at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass, the three-time PGA Tour winner continues to put his best foot forward when the lights are the brightest. He tweaked his back in the gym leading up to the Houston Open, which may be something to monitor as he prepares for his first appearance in the Masters. Previous: 12
McIlroy has clocked four straight top 25s on the PGA Tour, but that is hardly the barometer for success for the four-time major champion. The Northern Irishman's game has been riddled with big mistakes as he has already hit 13 balls in the water this season and made more double bogeys than during his entire 2023 season. He is driving the cover off the golf ball for the most part, and the iron play improved at the Players Championship, but there's a clear lack of sharpness right now. Previous: 4
The young Swede has been terrific ever since his slow start to the 2024 season. Åberg has connected on five straight top 25s, including a runner-up result at the shortened AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and a sneaky top-10 finish at the Players Championship. The iron play has made a nice leap after being just decent during his rookie campaign. Like Clark, the 24-year-old is set to make his first start at the Masters where he will attempt to become the first debutant to win in 45 years. Previous: 9
Matsuyama has rattled off four straight top 25s featuring a come-from-behind win at the Genesis Invitational and strong showings at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship. His ball-striking has returned to the levels we'd expect from Matsuyama during this stretch, and he is getting enough out of his putter as well. Health is always a concern when it comes to the man from Japan, but if he is able to tee it up, he is able to win. Previous: 15
Cantlay seems to have been lost in no man's land ever since the Genesis Invitational. Squandering a five-stroke lead at the halfway point while playing at Riviera, the 32-year-old has since gone onto experience a forgettable Florida swing. His iron play has lagged behind in his last two starts and leads to some questions about his readiness for the Masters where he finished T14 last season. Previous: 5
Not only is Hovland fighting his swing, he is fighting his short game as well. That is never a good combination, especially with new coaches entering the fold. The reigning FedEx Cup champion has achieved only one top-20 finish in 2024, but it is hard to push him outside the top 10 completely. He should figure things out, but it's possible it won't be in time for the Masters. Hovland ranks 183rd in strokes gained around the green out of 183 PGA Tour players. Not great! Previous: 6
If you're looking for a fun player to cheer for at the Masters, look no further than Theegala. The erratic right hander has four top 10s on the season with a runner-up finish at The Sentry and nice outings at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship. Theegala has always had a nice pair of hands, but his long game is beginning to catch up. He checks in inside the top 20 in strokes gained off the tee after ranking 134th in 2023. Previous: NR
It's been a good (but not great) start to the year for Homa. Highlighted by a top-10 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Homa's season has taken a relative step back due to some inconsistencies with his ball striking. He finds himself in a weird position where his iron play is beginning to peak, but his off the tee play is somewhat suspect. Previous: 13
There should be no concern over the missed cut at the Valspar Championship as a letdown after the Players Championship felt inevitable. The Champion Golfer of the Year finished runner up at the PGA Tour's flagship event and contended at the Arnold Palmer Invitational to kick start his year. What this stretch will do for his Masters chances will be interesting. Harman is not necessarily the best statistical fit for Augusta National (three missed cuts in five appearances), but this time might be different. Previous: NR
He's beginning to play some really good golf. DeChambeau has connected on three straight top 10s on LIV Golf, including a near miss in Las Vegas where he held the lead on the back nine on Sunday only to watch it slip away. The former U.S. Open champion is still super long off the tee, which will help at Augusta National, but the rest of the puzzle remains amiss for DeChambeau. He's without a Masters top 20 in seven attempts. Previous: NR
Fitzpatrick had been wildly inconsistent off the tee, but once he removed a weight from the big stick, the floodgates opened. He was fantastic at the Players Championship, gaining more than five strokes off the tee and another near eight on the greens en route to a top-five finish. The Englishman might be sneaking his way into the Masters where he finished T10 in 2023. Previous: NR
A strong start to the year that featured four top 12s and a run at the title at the American Express has been dampened by some recent play. Thomas threatened for a little bit Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational before missing the cut at the Players Championship. He appeared keen on bouncing back at the Valspar Championship where he was the betting favorite heading into the weekend but lost seven strokes on the greens on Saturday and plummeted to a poor finish. Previous: 10
Despite a tumultuous few weeks that included a final-round 78 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a final-round 76 at the Players Championship and a missed cut at the Valspar Championship, Burns still ranks eighth in total strokes gained on the year. This is the best he has driven the golf ball in quite some time, and he is another peak iron performance away from contending. Previous: 8
Morikawa is one of those many stars who is becoming increasingly more difficult to figure out. The two-time major champion hasn't done a ton this year with three top 20s, but to suggest he is not a top-18 player in the world would be a step too far. His iron play has not been good which is concerning since it has always been his greatest super power. Previous: 7