Who’s hot? With the new PGA Tour season just getting started and the Euro Tour closing in on the Race to Dubai, here’s our take on the world’s hottest players.
1. Jason Day – 257 points
Nothing like sitting at home with the family and moving up in the World Rankings. From the comfort of his couch, Day took over No. 1 spot from Jordan Spieth this week, but it won’t last long, as Spieth will likely overtake the Aussie when he tees it up at the WGC-HSBC Champions in three weeks. Day is home awaiting the birth of his second child in mid-November and is hoping to return at the Hero World Challenge in December.
2. Henrik Stenson – 240 points
Over a seven-week span, Stenson vaulted from 40th in the Fed Cup to 2nd, capping off another solid year on the PGA Tour. He then took some time off to focus on layout details for a course he’s designing in Sweden. He will spend most of this week getting his game back in shape, then travel to Malaysia to start a four week stretch that includes the CIMB Classic, WGC-HSBC Champions, BMW Masters and DP World Tour Championship.
3. Soren Kjeldsen – 239.99 points
Kjeldsen was in contention early at the Portugal Masters, but weekend rounds of 74-72 dropped him from T-7 to T-37, just his second finish out of the top-12 in his last seven starts. The Danish veteran is taking the week off before starting a four-week grind in the Race to Dubai with a start in the Turkish Airlines Open. Kjeldsen, who was 72nd in the world rankings after the PGA Championship, played his way into the world top-50 to qualify for the WGC-HSBC Champions in early November.
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick – 227.33 points
Fitzpatrick is heading to the USBS Hong Kong Open and a course that sets up perfectly for his game. Each of the last six winners have ranked in the top-12 in greens hit, three of them in the top-three, and Fitzpatrick is 7th on the European Tour so look for him to be in the running. Back in early June, the Englishman was 94th in the Race to Dubai and 251st in the World Rankings, but he has since finished third once, runner-up three times and won the British Masters, jumping to 12th in the Race to Dubai and 61st in the World Rankings. If he continues his hot play, at age 21 he could become the youngest player in the world top-50 and earn a chance to play in a host of 2016 events, including the majors.
5. Fabrizio Zanotti – 215.33 points
The Paraguayan was supposed to play in Portugal, but withdrew right before the event, ending a great five week stretch that included a runner-up finish at the British Masters, 4th at the KLM Open and T-3 at the Italian Open. He goes into the Race to Dubai 44th in the rankings and 101st in the world and will be looking for a strong finish to close out the European Tour season.
6. Chris Wood – 211.66 points
Over the last month, Wood has made a big move up the Race to Dubai list as well as the world rankings. With rounds of 68-69-65-68, he was runner-up at the Portugal Masters, his third top-ten in the last three weeks. He will sit out Hong Kong and return to action at the Turkish Airlines Open.
7. Justin Rose – 209 points
Rose suffered through another disappointing Sunday at the Frys.Com Open, posting three bogeys on the back nine and dropping into a T-6 finish. He will head to Hong Kong where is playing for just the second time, and despite missing the cut back in 2011, the Hong Kong Golf Club sets up perfectly for his game. It’s been a tough stretch of poor finishes for Rose lately, but it is a rut he is bound to break out of soon.
8. Kevin Na – 189 points
For the third time in his career, Na wasn’t able to win in a playoff, losing to rookie Emiliamo Grillo on the second extra hole at the Frys.com. Of course, Na wasn’t even supposed to play this week, so his last minute decision turned out to be a good one. The Korean-American has been on a roll the last two years, finishing in the top-30 in the FedEx Cup race and collecting $6 million in earnings. He is heading to Las Vegas for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, an event he won in 2011, and despite not playing well there the last two years, his game is well suited for the TPC Summerlin course. Na is ranked T-29th in birdie average and 28th in strokes gain tee-to-green, stats that bode well for a solid run in Vegas.
9. Thomas Pieters – 187 points
After posting back to back wins at the Czech Masters and KLM Open, Pieters got back into the top-ten with a T-6 at the Portugal Masters. He was in great shape after opening rounds of 65-66 but dropped back with a 72 in the third round. With all of his good play in the last month and a half, Pieters moved to 95th in the world rankings and 31st in the Race to Dubai. His will be back next week at the Turkish Airlines Open.
10. Daniel Berger – 181.67 points
The 22-year old was named the PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year thanks to his 13 top-25 finishes in 2014-15. He kicked off the new season in similar fashion a T-17 at the Frys, and will take the next couple of weeks off as he gets ready for the WGC-HSBC Champions.
11. Rickie Fowler – 179 points
Fowler skipped the Frys.com and will make his first start of the season at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, his first appearance there since 2010. TPC Summerlin should be perfect for him. He ranks T-17 in birdie average and 26th in strokes gain tee-to-green, stats that should help him compete in the desert this week.
Inside the rankings:
*Off the GOLFstats player rankings, we determine the hottest players based on the last nine weeks on the PGA and European Tours. 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.