The Power 18 golf rankings: Tiger Woods jumps in as Rory McIlroy begins restarted season on top

Here's a look at the 18 best golfers in the world as golf restarts amid the coronavirus pandemic

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by Kyle Porter    CBS Sports Writer

Golf is back! The PGA Tour returns with the Charles Schwab Challenge this week at Colonial Country Club, and most of the best players in the world will be in attendance.

It’s been three months since the PGA Tour conducted an event, so you may have forgotten who exactly the best players in the world were when golf stopped. Contrary to how things feel right now, though, there was professional golf played earlier in 2020, which gave us some good information and data upon which to base our power rankings going into this week.

While not much has changed in this edition of the Power 18 from our first edition back in March, I have updated the list with a few nuggets and tidbits as the PGA Tour restarts for the rest of 2020. Again, these rankings are not a projection but rather how players have actually performed over the last few months (or in this case, in the months before the coronavirus pandemic).

1 Rory McIlroy
He’s been easily the best golfer on the planet since the start of 2019. Everybody knows it, and the pandemic didn’t change a single thing. If anything, time off can facilitate a situation in which talent rises to the top even more quickly.
2 Jon Rahm
Different player, same theory here with Rahm. He is pretty clearly the second-best player in the world over the past year even if he doesn’t have the PGA Tour wins to back that up.
3 Bryson DeChambeau
I was tempted to move him to No. 2 in place of Rahm after he got his ball speed over 200 mph with regularity during the quarantine. I’m completely fascinated to see how 250-pound Bryson tries to obliterate PGA Tour courses.
4 Tyrrell Hatton
He’s gaining over three strokes per round on the field in his 16 measured PGA Tour rounds this year, which is a Tiger Woods-like number. Two wins in his last four starts (which dates back to last November because of the pandemic and an injury).
5 Justin Thomas
It will take about three good holes from J.T. at Colonial to jump back into my top three on this list. He was really good, if maybe a bit more erratic than normal to star the year. It’s not difficult to see him ripping off five wins in the next 15 months, though.
6 Sungjae Im
Welcome to the show. Im, who just turned 22 during the quarantine, is the best player you’ve never heard of and is No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings right now. The real deal.
7 Webb Simpson
Have the two most consistent players in the world over the last 18 months been McIlroy and … Webb Simpson? I think there’s a world in which that’s true. I’m not positive that we’re living in it — depending on how you define consistency — but we might be.
8 Hideki Matsuyama
That 63 in the first round of the Players Championship still feels fresh. Matsuyama has rebounded from a bit of a dip over the past two years and is once again a tee-to-green tour de force.
9 Tommy Fleetwood
I’m going to pretend like that Arnold Palmer Invitational missed cut and 78 in Round 1 at The Players were both aberrations! Mostly because I want them to be. Golf is more fun when Fleetwood and his hair are feeling it, and he has four top-three finishes in his last seven events.
10 Patrick Cantlay
His last six months have been better than you might imagine. Definitely the top-10 player in the world folks know the least about (which is probably how he likes it).
11 Marc Leishman
Two top twos (including a win) in his last four starts. He’s always been a really good player on the PGA Tour, but maybe never has his success happened this quietly.
12 Daniel Berger
Yes, Daniel Berger! Three straight top 10s, and it appears after a bit of wandering in the desert, he’s found some electricity in his game again.
13 Max Homa
We currently live in a world where Simpson, Homa, Im and Hatton are all arguably better at golf right now than Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson. I don’t know what to do with this.
14 Adam Scott
Two wins in his last four starts, but he’ll fall off this list quickly as he won’t be playing at the beginning of the PGA Tour’s restart.
15 Xander Schauffele
Four straight top 25s. Still top 10 in strokes gained and No. 9 from tee to green.
16 Gary Woodland
Feels like his game is on a different level now than it was before last year’s U.S. Open. It might be easier to put a Joel Dahmen or Scottie Scheffler in here, but the results are similar and Woodland’s game is just better overall.
17 Tiger Woods
I bought in after The Match: Champions for Charity. The swing was almost too good. It’s foolish to put stock into an exhibition — I get that — but I also know what I watched. And what I watched was somebody who didn’t miss a single shot in a weather-affected event in which it was easy to get distracted. Given his injury struggles so far this year, that outcome was a stunner. You really do love to see it.
18 Collin Morikawa
I can’t believe I’m saying this — especially with Tiger just above him — but … he might be the best iron player in the world.
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