After months of singing the praise of Collin Morikawa likely to move to World No. 1, we have the scenario at this week’s Players Championship of a further three players in with the chance of reaching the pinnacle of the World Rankings.
Not only does Morikawa have yet another opportunity but the likes of Norway’s Viktor Hovland and the American pair of Patrick Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler mathematically can move past Spaniard Jon Rahm and into the No. 1 position with victory at TPC Sawgrass.
Rahm has been atop of the rankings since his third-place finish in last July’s 149th Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. He went to No. 1 for the first time in capturing the U.S. Open but lost it finishing T7th at the Scottish Open only to regain the honour a week later at Sandwich.
At the closing events of last year, it was Morikawa, and in Rahm’s absence, who was being touted in becoming the No. 1 in the world, first winning the DP World Tour Championship and when leading going into the last day of December’s Hero World Challenge before stumbling to a share of fifth. Though since the start of the New Year, Morikawa has been unable to repeat his late 2021 form, except to share second in his last event, the Genesis Invitational.
So, in the opening nine weeks of 2022, we’ve seen Hovland come from sixth to third on the rankings, thanks to his Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic win along with a fourth at the Genesis and runner-up last week in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Cantlay was fourth in the world from last August when he denied Bryson DeChambeau the BMW Championship title before edging to third in the world on the back of being second in Phoenix.
And Scheffler’s moved into fifth in the Official World Golf Ranking following Sunday’s victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and having moved to ninth in the world after his win in Phoenix and then to seventh a week later at Riviera and then fifth with his victory, a second in three events, at Bay Hill.
Of historical note, the presence of Rahm, Morikawa, Hovland, Cantlay, and Scheffler made a first in the 36-year history of the World Rankings with the leading five each under the age of 30.
This week’s whopping $20m Players Championship will present the winner with 80 World Ranking points, and should either Morikawa, Hovland, Cantlay, or Scheffler win, they could overtake Rahm.
Though the player currently at No. 1 and also the player presently ranked 5, each had no idea of this scenario.
Rahm said: “You should ask if I want to know those things or not (smiling). No. No. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve still got to perform every week. I’m chasing people myself, as well, so no, I don’t feel like I’m being chased.”
And Scheffler remarked: “I didn’t know that until you just said that, so — I wouldn’t say I really pay too much close attention to stuff like that. For me, I’m just really focused on this event and this tournament and kind of getting ready.
“This golf course provides a much different challenge than last week does, and I’m just trying to prepare for that.”
Though one person who is aware of what could unfold rankings-wise is Morikawa, and perhaps that’s because he’s been asked so often in recent weeks of his chances of finally moving to the top of the world.
“We just truly believed in ourselves, and that’s the number one thing is that you absolutely have to trust yourself that you can do it,” Morikawa said.
“Not just make it to the PGA Tour, not just make it to the top 100, top 50 in the world but to be No. 1.”