The first World Golf Championship of 2019 is upon us and that is reason alone to celebrate. These are always some of my favorite events of the year to watch, as you get the world’s best in a smaller field with plenty of FedEx Cup points on the line. The only bummer is a few of the big names (Justin Rose, Jason Day, and Adam Scott) decided against teeing it up this week, but aside from those three, pretty much every notable is in the field this week. Before we get into the rankings, let’s quickly recap my performance at Genesis last week.
Genesis Open Power Ranking Grade: A-
“If not for his best-friend’s greatness in the desert, he likely would have found the winner’s circle in Phoenix. That was Phoenix. JT will be hungry and he checks all the boxes.” These were the words I inked last week about JT after placing him #1 in the rankings. Justin looked well on his way victory #10 through about 63 holes, before an ice-cold putter and a few sloppy iron shots led to a really poor finish. This finish allowed J.B. Holmes to snatch the trophy and also kept me out of A range. Good calls on Leish, Rahm, and Rory helped buoy a solid week and Tyrrell Hatton was the only missed cut of the group.
-11 of my 12 golfers ranked made the cut.
-9 of the 12 finished in the top 15.
-6 of the 12 finished in the top 10.
The JT finish has me a little frustrated as I also held a 12/1 ticket on him to hoist the trophy, but all in all it was a very good bounce-back week in LA. The missing piece was not having J.B. Holmes on the list, but not many saw that performance coming from the Kentuckyian. No time to dwell on TOUR, time to head out of the country and get back to work.
Standard Disclaimer: For non-major Championships I will be ranking 12 golfers a week, and for the Majors I will be going 20 deep. I don’t rank for guys that I think will be in the mix, I rank solely on likelihood of winning the golf tournament. Thus, whoever I give the #1 spot to each week, is the guy I feel is most likely to reach the winner’s circle, and so forth down the list. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
1. Jon Rahm- Continues to knock on the door week after week and I believe this is the week he breaks the darn thing open. Finished T3 here in his debut in 2017, in which he was a late three-putt away from forcing a playoff with DJ. This course fits him and nobody has been more consistent early in 2019.
2. Rickie Fowler- While many in this field were waking up at 4am to deal with the brutal rain delays at Riviera, Rickie was chilling with his sister’s newborns and letting his triumph at the WMPO sink in. He’ll roll into Mexico City rested and hungry for more. Would not be shocked in the slightest if my pick for 2019 POY adds a 2nd victory to his 2019 season this week.
3. Tommy Fleetwood- A surprising #3 placement for Fleetwood Mac given his mediocre start to 2019, but I expect him to be right there this week. A solo second and a T14 in his two starts at Club de Golf Chapultepec should not go unnoticed as this is a course that really fits his strengths.
4. Dustin Johnson- Felt like he had his C game all of last week and he still somehow quietly finishes T9. Returns to a course where he won in 2017, and where his length and accuracy should flourish. Hard not to like DJ any week he tees it up, but looks even juicier this week.
5. Justin Thomas- I envision this week going one of two ways for JT. He comes out pissed off and motivated after letting one slip away last week, and he thrusts himself right back into contention on Sunday. The flipside would be a frustrated/lethargic Justin that still has fresh memories of last week’s back nine in his head, and a T44 finish filled with lots of birdies and lots of bogeys. The 5th slot feels like a fair compromise.
6. Phil Mickelson- Feels very good to be typing about Phil Mickelson defending his title this week. Last week Phil authored a predictable mediocre finish following his win at Pebble, but he will be ready to roll this week at the place where he ended his 4+ year victory drought.
7. Xander Schauffele- Another Power Ranking, another Xander inclusion. Sluggish Thursday round last week cost him a chance at contention, but was rock-solid in the final three rounds. Had a successful debut in Mexico City a year ago, and will look to build on it this time around.
8. Rory McIlroy- Another Top 10 for Rory in which it felt like he never actually had a chance to win the golf tournament. That may sound harsh, but in my opinion he continues to be a disappointment. Flashes of brilliance coupled with sloppiness is a formula that gets you near the top of leaderboards but rarely in the winner’s circle. That has been the story for Rory the last couple years, and until he changes it he will continue to land outside the Top 5 of these rankings.
9. Brooks Koepka- First start since early January at Kapalua, and has yet to be very productive at Club de Golf Chapultepec. With that said, this is still the World #2 and one of the most explosive players in today’s game. Always dangerous.
10. Sergio Garcia- Fought back after a brutal Thursday at Riviera. Eager to change the headlines regarding him after his bizarre antics in Saudi Arabia. Has finished inside the Top 15 in both of his trips to Mexico City. Look out for Nino.
11. Marc Leishman- Quietly rolled along to another Top 5 finish last week at the Genesis. Has morphed himself into one of the most consistent players on TOUR and with the elevation changes that this week will provide, hard not to place Leish as one of the most reliable in the field.
12. Tiger Woods- Will be Tiger’s first time ever seeing this golf course, but the record in WGCs speaks for itself. Hit it about as well as anyone in the field at Genesis, and if not for multiple days in which he had to play 24+ holes, he may well have been right there late. Avoiding three-putts this week will be key as the putter let him down in LA.
Finally a week in which the forecast does not appear to call for any rain. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the game’s best peg it up in the lowlands of North America. And remember, in a no-cut event like this, a pedestrian Thursday performance does not necessarily do your golfer in. See you all next week.