Who’s hot? A look at the world’s top golfers as they play out the 2015 string.
1. Matthew Fitzpatrick – 328.67 points
The sure-fire European Tour rookie of the year topped off a great season with a 4th place finish at the DP World Tour Championships, his seventh top-10 in his last 13 events, leaving him 12th on the Race to Dubai money list and earning a bonus of $143,000. What’s more, he’s currently ranked 47th in the world, and with at least one more start to go (the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa), Fitzpatrick is more than likely to end the year in the Top-50 and earn invites to most of the marquee events in 2016.
2. Patrick Reed – 313.17 points
Reed was in the hunt, just three shots off the lead, heading into the final round of the DP, but a poor Sunday performance — just one birdie en route to a 73 — knocked him back to a T-10 finish. But despite missing out on the Race to Dubai bonus pool, Reed enjoyed a great run on the European Tour winning $1.37 million in just 5-weeks of play. His next start will likely come at Tiger Woods’ Hero World Challenge in early December.
3. Rory McIlroy – 310 points
Hard to imagine how four world-wide wins and the No. 1 spot in the Race to Dubai could be considered a disappointing season, but with no major victories –and some ill-timed injuries — 2015 isn’t likely to be McIlroy’s most memorable year. But he did finish strong, overpowering the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates to win the DP World Tour Championship, playing the par 4s in 10 under, the par 5s in 9 under, and missing just 12 greens all week, a potential glimpse at what 2016 has in store. He will take the next eight weeks off and return to competition at Abu Dhabi in January.
4. Byeong-Hun An – 298 points
The 24-year old South Korean ended his first full year on the European Tour with top-4 finishes in three of his last four starts. He drove the ball beautifully at the DP and played flawless golf from tee to green, moving to 7th in the Race to Dubai and picking up $287,500 in bonus money to go along with his $2.75 million in Euro Tour earnings. At 31st in the world rankings, An is sure to be a regular at all the big events of 2016.
5. Justin Rose – 275 points
A 78 in the third round—his highest score of the year — led to a disappointing T-22 in Dubai and Rose’s worst finish since his T-27 at the U.S. Open. With earnings of $6.2 million in 2015, it’s hard to say that his year wasn’t a success, but in between his holiday eggnogs, Rose is sure to look back on the handful of poor shots that could have made the difference in five or six events this season. He’ll take some time off before heading to his home in the Bahamas for the Hero World Challenge, where he’ll look to get a jump on reducing errors — and increasing wins — in the New Year.
6. Graeme McDowell – 269.67 points
Nothing like a win and a third place finish in back to back starts to turn a so-so year into a big positive. Going into the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, McDowell had just one top-10 — a T-9 at the Omega Desert Classic in February — all season and had dropped down to 82nd in the world rankings. But the win in Mexico secured his spot at the 2016 Masters and the subsequent third place at the RSM Classic pushed him to 53rd in the world. He’s currently not scheduled to make his next start until February, so it will be interesting to see if his good form of late inspires him to add a few more events in hopes of cracking the top-50.
7. Andy Sullivan – 269 points
With his runner-up finish in the DP World Championships, Sullivan ended his year on a high note. With three wins, a runner-up, and three more top-tens, Sullivan earned just over $2 million, and at age 29, is clearly one of the young guns on the European Tour. The runner-up finish bumped him 17 spots in the world rankings to 36th, earning him a berth in all four majors and the first two WGC-events in 2016. He is taking the week off and will start the new season at the Nedbank World Challenge.
8. Kevin Kisner – 268.34 points
After finishing runner-up four times in the last six months — including three playoff losses — Kisner finally broke through at the RSM Classic for his first career win, and as a University of Georgia alum, the 31-year old couldn’t have picked a better spot to do it than Sea Island, Georgia. Kisner has shown some drastic improvement in almost all parts of his game over the last few seasons. Back in 2011, he ranked 178th in strokes gained tee-to-green and 93rd in strokes gained putting. He finished this season at 9th and 14th in those categories respectively. Initially planning to take some time off, this week’s win earns him a spot at the Hero World Challenge and the Hyundai Tournament of Champions — along with any other event he wants to play in 2016.
9. Branden Grace – 261.67 points
Grace ended his breakout season with a 3rd place finish in the DP World Tour Championship. True, he won four times in 2012, but this was the year that he proved he can play well in the biggest events against the toughest fields. He started the season with a win at the Dunhill Championship and then the Qatar Masters. But he also found himself in contention at the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. Grace finished 3rd in the Race to Dubai and earned over $3 million, but there’s no time to rest as he will be defending his Dunhill crown this week then head to South Africa for the Nedbank.
10. Danny Willett – 259.33 points
With the Race to Dubai on the line, Willett gave McIlroy a run for the money at the DP, finishing T-4 to secure the No. 2 spot on the money list along with a cool $1 million bonus — on top of his $4.1 million in Euro Tour earnings. At 28, 2015 was clearly a banner year, as Willet won the Nedbank Challenge and the European Masters in Switzerland. He also had three third place finishes including two at WGC events, proving he’s ready to compete in any event. He will take the week off before defending his title at the Nedbank.
Inside the rankings:
*Off the GOLFstats player rankings, we determine the hottest players based on the last nine weeks on the PGA Tour. Keys to the system:
*132 points for regular tour win. All finishers in top-50 get points via a declining scale.
*198 points for a win in WGC events and the Players Championship, 264 points for a major win.
*Points are lost for missed cuts, DQs or WDs: 10 for regular events, 15 for WGC and Players, 20 for majors
*All points get degraded 1/3 after weeks 4, 5 & 6, and by 2/3 for weeks 7, 8 & 9