PGA Championship 2019 predictions: Ranking Tiger Woods, Bethpage field - Sports Illustrated

While it may feel like the Masters just wrapped up, golf’s next major is already upon us. With the PGA Championship teeing off Thursday at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y., we’ve ranked every non-club professional in the field from least likely to win to most. 

Tiger Woods enters this week as the Vegas favorite, due in large part to his remarkable victory at Augusta just five weeks ago. There are some question marks surrounding Tiger this week, as he chose to skip every event between the Masters and the PGA, but there’s every reason to believe Woods can win this week and be halfway to the Grand Slam. 

But Woods isn’t the only contender this week. Far from it, as the PGA Championship consistently boasts the best field in golf. So, without further ado, let’s jump into the rankings.

(All stats and rankings as of May 14.)

JUMP TO: 136-100 | 99-61 | 60-31 | 30-11 | 10-1

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136. Rich Beem

Age: 48
World ranking: N/R
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2002 PGA Championship

Held off a hard-charging, in-his-prime Tiger Woods to win the 2002 PGA at Hazeltine. He hasn’t won anywhere since and hasn’t made a cut on the PGA Tour since 2016. 

135. John Daly

Age: 53
World ranking: N/A
Best finish in a major: WIN, 1991 PGA Championship, 1995 British Open

Won the 1991 PGA at Crooked Stick, his first-ever start in a major, in what was then considered an all-time upset. Received permission to ride in a cart this week and will be first player to do so in a major since 2012.

134. Shaun Micheel

Age: 50
World ranking: N/A
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2003 PGA Championship

His 7-iron to tap in range on the 72nd hole of the 2003 PGA at Oak Hill is one of the best shots in tournament history. He will come to Bethpage late after the Regions Tradition, the first Champions Tour major of the year, had a weather-induced Monday finish.

133. Michael Kim

Age: 25
World ranking: 362
Best finish in a major: T17, 2013 U.S. Open

He won last year’s John Deere Classic, but he has missed 10 cuts in a row. That is not a typo.

132. Y.E. Yang

Age: 47
World ranking: 203
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2009 PGA Championship

In 2009, he did something no one had ever done: chase down Tiger Woods to win a major championship. He dropped to as low as 895th in the world but has been playing better of late, winning a Japan tour event in 2018 and taking T4 in his last start.

131. Bronson Burgoon

Age: 31
World ranking: 179
Best finish in a major: CUT, 2017 U.S. Open

Since a T2 at the CIMB Classic last fall, Burgoon has missed eight of his last nine cuts. 

130. Vijay Singh

Age: 56
World ranking: 506
Best finish in a major: WIN, 1998, ’04 PGA Championship; 2000 Masters

He’s a two-time PGA Championship winner and had a chance to become the oldest winner in PGA Tour history at February’s Honda Classic, but this week is a tough ask for a guy closer to 60 than 50.

129. Richy Werenski

Age: 27
World ranking: 206
Best finish in a major: CUT, 2018 U.S. Open

He’ll make his PGA Championship debut this week after getting into the field by way of Sam Ryder, who withdrew with an injury.

128. Brandon Stone

Age: 26
World ranking: 152
Best finish in a major: T12, 2018 PGA Championship

South African player did one year at the University of Texas before turning professional. He’s missed five of his last eight cuts on the European Tour.

127. Kelly Kraft

Age: 30
World ranking: 192
Best finish in a major: T58, 2017 PGA Championship

He won the U.S. Amateur in 2011 but has struggled to replicate that success on the PGA Tour, where he is still searching for his first victory. He ranks 174th in strokes gained overall. 

126. Richard Sterne

Age: 37
World ranking: 131
Best finish in a major: T21, 2013 British Open

The South African has six wins on the European Tour and is playing in his first major since the 2017 PGA Championship.

125. Joaquin Niemann

Age: 20
World ranking: 141
Best finish in a major: T71, 2018 PGA Championship

A former world No. 1 amateur, the young Chilean is struggling in his first full season on Tour and only got into this field when Sung Kang won the PGA Championship, thus opening up a spot for an alternate.

124. Brian Gay

Age: 47
World ranking: 137
Best finish in a major: T20, 2018 U.S. Open

Despite consistently ranking near the bottom in driving distance—at 272.3 yards this year, he’s second-to-last—Gay has made himself more than $22 million over his PGA career by being one of the best putters on the planet.

123. Harold Varner III

Age: 28
World ranking: 174
Best finish in a major: T66, 2016 British Open

The only African-American on Tour other than Tiger Woods, Varner III has two top-10 finishes this year but has missed three cuts in a row.

122. Martin Trainer

Age: 28
World ranking: 133
Best finish in a major: Making first appearance

Has missed more cuts (eight) than he’s made this season (seven), but he did win his first PGA Tour event at February’s Puerto Rico Open.

121. Padraig Harrington

Age: 47
World ranking: 240
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2007, ’08 British Open, 2008 PGA Championship

The 2008 PGA Champion figures to play less moving forward as his focus shifts to captaining Team Europe at the 2020 Ryder Cup.

120. Troy Merritt

Age: 33
World ranking: 185
Best finish in a major: T42, 2016 Masters

Won his second PGA Tour title at last year’s Barbasol Championship, the event played opposite the British Open.

119. J.J. Spaun

Age: 28
World ranking: 148
Best finish in a major: T35, 2018 PGA Championship

The San Diego State grad has two top 10s on the wraparound season, but none since November.

118. Chesson Hadley

Age: 31
World ranking: 95
Best finish in a major: T61, 2015 PGA Championship

The lanky Georgia Tech grad won rookie of the year in 2014 before briefly dipping back to the Tour in 2016. He has missed four of his last five cuts.

117. Ryan Armour

Age: 43
World ranking: 117
Best finish in a major: MC in both major starts

One of the straightest hitters on Tour, he ranks third in driving accuracy…but 204th in driving distance. Bethpage feels like a lot of course for him.

116. Shaun Norris

Age: 36
World ranking: 99
Best finish in a major: T61, 2018 British Open

The South African player has seven wins worldwide, but zero on either the PGA or European Tours.

115. Mike Lorenzo-Vera

Age: 34
World ranking: 115
Best finish in a major: T62, 2017 British Open

The Frenchman has two top fives in his last four starts in Europe but has had virtually no success on this side of the pond.

114. Lucas Herbert

Age: 24
World ranking: 94
Best finish in a major: T5, 2016 British Open

Young Australian has had some success on the European Tour but is still looking for his first victory as a professional. 


113. Martin Kaymer

Age: 34
World ranking: 186
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2010 PGA Championship, ’14 U.S. Open

Two-time major winner has lost form since winning the Players and the U.S. Open in 2014. His last top 10 in a PGA Tour event came in February 2017.

112. Daniel Berger

Age: 26
World ranking: 89
Best finish in a major: T6, 2018 U.S. Open

Played on the 2017 U.S. Presidents Cup team but has slid down the rankings, due in large part to a finger injury that sidelined him for four months.

111. Kevin Tway

Age: 30
World ranking: 104
Best finish in a major: T36, 2019 Masters

Won the very first event of the wraparound season at last fall’s Safeway Open, then endured a streak of six straight missed cuts. He’s bounced back since, making the weekend three straight times.

110. Jason Dufner

Age: 42
World ranking: 187
Best finish in a major: Won 2013 PGA Championship

Duf’ won the 2013 PGA and has represented the U.S. at a Presidents Cup (2012) and Ryder Cup (2013), but an extremely balky putter saw him drop outside the world top 200 before a T4 at Quail Hollow.

109. Beau Hossler

Age: 24
World ranking: 110
Best finish in a major: T29, 2012 U.S. Open

Former Texas Longhorn had two second-place finishes last year, in his rookie campaign, but has no top 10s yet this season.

108. Brendan Jones

Age: 44
World ranking: 101
Best finish in a major: T24, 2009 PGA Championship

Australian has spent the majority of his career on the Japan Golf Tour, where he has won 15 times. 

107. Alex Bjork

Age: 28
World ranking: 85
Best finish in a major: MC in all three major starts

Swedish player had a strong 2018 season on the European Tour, with a win and two second-place finishes.

106. Satoshi Kodaira

Age: 29
World ranking: 79
Best finish in a major: T28, 2018 Masters

The winner of last year’s RBC Heritage does not rank better than 172nd in any of the major strokes gained categories, and he’s currently 209th out of 214 players in strokes gained overall.

105. Kurt Kitayama

Age: 26
World ranking: 108
Best finish in a major: Making first appearance

The UNLV grad is one of few Americans playing full-time on the European Tour, where he has two victories since December.

104. David Lipsky

Age: 30
World ranking: 118
Best finish in a major: T58, 2015 British Open

A California native and Northwestern graduate, Lipsky plays full-time on the European Tour. He's coming to Bethpage riding back-to-back top fives.

103. Ross Fisher

Age: 38
World ranking: 105
Best finish in a major: 5, 2009 U.S. Open

At his peak, the tall Brit represented Europe at the Ryder Cup in 2010. He’s been playing full-time in Europe since with modest success. 

102. Danny Lee

Age: 28
World ranking: 119
Best finish in a major: T17, 2016 PGA Championship

It’s to believe Lee is just 28, given how long he’s been prominent in the golf world. He enters this week riding back-to-back missed cuts, including a 75-77 showing in his last start at Quail Hollow.

101. Adam Long

Age: 31
World ranking: 121
Best finish in a major: CUT in both appearances

A true feast-or-famine player, Long has made just five of 16 cuts this season…but one of those was at the Desert Classic, where he held off Phil Mickelson to win his first PGA Tour title.

100. Cameron Champ

Age: 23
World ranking: 102
Best finish in a major: T32, 2017 U.S. Open

Perhaps the longest hitter in professional golf, Champ averaged 343 yards during last year’s Tour season and currently leads the PGA Tour in driving distance. Looked destined for stardom after winning the Sanderson Farms Classic in the fall but has struggled since, failing to play the weekend in each of his last five starts (four missed cuts, one withdrawal).

99. Erik van Rooyen

Age: 29
World ranking: 106
Best finish in a major: T17, 2018 British Open

Originally from South Africa, he did four years at the University of Minnesota before turning pro. He has three top-six finishes in his last six starts on the European Tour, including two seconds.

98. Julian Suri

Age: 28
World ranking: 97
Best finish in a major: T19, 2018 PGA Championship

The Duke graduate recently returned from a four-month absence due to an abdominal injury that required surgery.

97. Adrian Otaegui

Age: 26
World ranking: 82
Best finish in a major: T65, 2018 PGA Championship

The young Spaniard finished T60 out of 71 in his only PGA Tour start this season, at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

96. Jimmy Walker

Age: 40
World ranking: 107
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2016 PGA Championship

The Texan won this tournament three years ago at Baltustrol, but he hasn’t been the same player since coming down with Lyme disease in 2017.

95. Michael Thompson

Age: 34
World ranking: 111
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2016 British Open

He quietly has four top-10 finishes this year and ranks a more-than-respectable 32nd in strokes gained overall.

94. Danny Willett

Age: 31
World ranking: 88
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2016 Masters

He experienced one of the steepest post-major victory drop-offs ever, falling as low as 442nd in the world before winning the European Tour’s season-ending event in November. The form has dropped since then, as he’s missed five of his last six cuts.

93. Mikko Korhonen

Age: 38
World ranking: 87
Best finish in a major: CUT, 2018 PGA Championship

From Finland, he won the European Tour’s Volvo China Open two weeks ago in a playoff.

92. Shugo Imahira

Age: 26
World ranking: 74
Best finish in a major: CUT in all four major starts

He won the Order of Merit last year on the Japan Golf Tour and continues to play the majority of his golf overseas.

91. Joost Luiten

Age: 33
World ranking: 69
Best finish in a major: T21, 2012 PGA Championship

The Dutch player has six wins on the European Tour, most recently in February 2018.

90. Jazz Janewattananond

Age: 23
World ranking: 72
Best finish in a major: Making first appearance

From Thailand, he is the youngest player to ever make an Asian Tour cut at 14 years, 71 days. Currently second on that tour’s money list.

89. Ryan Fox

Age: 32
World ranking: 84
Best finish in a major: T27, 2018 PGA Championship

The long-hitting Aussie picked up his first European Tour win in February. 

88. Dylan Frittelli

Age: 28
World ranking: 96
Best finish in a major: T31, 2018 PGA Championship

Frittelli, from South Africa, was on the national title-winning 2012 University of Texas team with Jordan Spieth. He’s done the majority of his damage overseas, where he has two European Tour victories. 

87. Patton Kizzire

Age: 33
World ranking: 98
Best finish in a major: T18, 2019 Masters

He won twice in a two-month span during the 2017-18 season, but his only top 10 since January 2018 came at the limited-field Sony Open four months ago.


86. Steve Stricker

Age: 52
World ranking: 433
Best finish in a major: 2, 1998 PGA Championship

Won the Regions Tradition, the first major of the Champions Tour season which finished Monday, by six shots. He’ll serve as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain at Whistling Straits in 2020.

85. Kevin Na

Age: 35
World ranking: 49
Best finish in a major: T9, 2017 Masters

Na has developed into a fan-favorite largely due to his delightful habit of walking in putts, but Bethpage is a ton to chew on for the relatively short hitter.

84. Adam Hadwin

Age: 31
World ranking: 78
Best finish in a major: T24, 2018 Masters

Best-known for shooting 59 at the 2017 Desert Classic, he represented the International team at the 2017 Presidents Cup.

83. Corey Conners

Age: 27
World ranking: 86
Best finish in a major: T46, 2019 Masters

The Canadian delivered one of the better stories of the year when he Monday qualified into the Valero Texas Open, then won the tournament to secure the final spot in the Masters.

82. Chez Reavie

Age: 37
World ranking: 65
Best finish in a major: T12, 2018 PGA

Gritty veteran ranks second on Tour in driving accuracy but 166th in driving distance, a less-than-optimal balance for beastly Bethpage.

81. Brian Harman

Age: 32
World ranking: 93
Best finish in a major: T2, 2017 U.S. Open

Three-time All-American at Georgia has had some success on big stages, including a T2 at the 2017 U.S. Open, but he’s missed nine of his last 13 cuts.

80. Thomas Pieters

Age: 27
World ranking: 92
Best finish in a major: T4, 2017 Masters

The Belgian seemed destined for stardom after shining for team Europe at the 2016 Ryder Cup, but for one reason or another, it just hasn’t materialized.

79. Zach Johnson

Age: 43
World ranking: 91
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2007 Masters, ’15 British Open

With 12 wins and two majors, Johnson has a solid chance to end up in the Hall of Fame one day. His days as a Ryder Cup-caliber player may be over, though, as his current world ranking (No. 89) is the lowest he’s been since March 2004.

78. Pat Perez

Age: 43
World ranking: 90
Best finish in a major: T6, 2005 PGA Championship

The veteran from Vegas has summoned some solid play of late, finishing T8 at Quail Hollow and T12 at the Byron Nelson.

77. Grame McDowell

Age: 39
World ranking: 120
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2010 U.S. Open

Once a fixture in the world top 20, the Northern Irishman had fallen as low as 257th in the world before winning the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in March.

76. Andrew Putnam

Age: 30
World ranking: 58
Best finish in a major: T59, 2018 PGA Championships

A three-time All-American at Pepperdine, Putnam initially struggled to find footing on Tour, but a win last year and a solo second at January’s Sony Open propelled him into the world top 50 for the first time.

75. Sam Burns

Age: 22
World ranking: 108
Best finish in a major: T41, 2018 U.S. Open

Current PGA Tour rookie won the Jack Nicklaus national player of the year award in 2017 while at LSU.

74. Tom Lewis

Age: 28
World ranking: 67
Best finish in a major: T30, 2011 British Open

Up-and-coming British player won the Portugal Masters last fall and will be making his first PGA Championship start.

73. Joel Dahmen

Age: 31
World ranking: 81
Best finish in a major: Making first appearance

Dahmen survived testicular cancer in 2011, so this golf stuff really isn’t a challenge at all. He picked his best-ever finish, a solo second, in his last start at the Wells Fargo Championship.

72. Russell Knox

Age: 33
World ranking: 68
Best finish in a major: T12, 2018 U.S. Open

The Scotsman has made 13 of 15 cuts on the season but has just one top 10, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February.

71. Thorbjorn Olesen

Age: 29
World ranking: 55
Best finish in a major: T6, 2013 Masters

He played his way onto last year’s European Ryder Cup, but the sweet-swinging Dane hasn’t done much Stateside recently.

70. Jhonattan Vegas

Age: 34
World ranking: 80
Best finish in a major: T22, 2016 PGA Championship

He’s playing quite well recently, having made seven of his last eight cuts and posting five top 25s in that span. 

69. Abraham Ancer

Age: 28
World ranking: 62
Best finish in a major: Making first appearance

Oklahoma graduate picked up two top-five finishes in his first three starts this season.

68. Luke List

Age: 35
World ranking: 76
Best finish in a major: T33, 2005 Masters

The long-hitting Vanderbilt grad ranks third in driving distance and 21st in strokes gained tee-to-green, but it hasn’t translated to much success this year—he ranks 76th in the FedEx Cup standings.

67. Lee Westwood

Age: 46
World ranking: 71
Best finish in a major: 2, 2010 Masters, British Open

Westy has 11 top-three finishes in majors, and while he’s likely to end his career without winning the big one, he did win his first tournament in more than four years in November. He finished T5 in the 2012 Barclays here.

66. Max Homa

Age: 28
World ranking: 100
Best finish in a major: CUT in only appearance

During the 2017 season, he missed 15 of 17 cuts and made only $18,000. Two weeks ago, he won the Wells Fargo Championship to win $1.4 million.

65. Charley Hoffman

Age: 42
World ranking: 70
Best finish in a major: 8, 2017 U.S. Open

The Californian seems to always pop up early on major leaderboards and finished T2 at last month’s Valero Texas Open, his first top 10 anywhere since 2017.

64. C.T. Pan

Age: 27
World ranking: 54
Best finish in a major: T6, 2013 Masters

A former star at the University of Washington, the diminutive Pan (5’6”) won the RBC Heritage for his first Tour victory the week after the Masters.

63. Kyle Stanley

Age: 31
World ranking: 47
Best finish in a major: T21, 2019 Masters

Stanley has missed seven cuts in 16 events this season and didn’t get his first top 10 until his last start, at the Wells Fargo Championship.

62. Shane Lowry

Age: 32
World ranking: 45
Best finish in a major: T2, 2016 U.S. Open

On one hand, he’s missed three of his last five cuts and was a mess at the Masters. On the other hand, he won one of the bigger European Tour events (Abu Dhabi HSBC Champions) in January and took T3 in his last start, at the RBC Heritage.

61. Charles Howell III

Age: 39
World ranking: 51
Best finish in a major: T10, 2003 PGA Championship

His win at the RSM Classic in November was his first victory in more than 11 years, and he’s having a resurgent season. But he withdrew from last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson with a hip injury and missed the cut in both starts prior to that.

60. Billy Horschel

Age: 32
World ranking: 43
Best finish in a major: T4, 2013 U.S. Open

The fiery Floridian has made 19 of his last 20 cuts, but he doesn’t have a top-15 finish since January. 


59. J.B. Holmes

Age: 37
World ranking: 46
Best finish in a major: 3, 2016 British Open

The infamously deliberate Kentuckian won the Genesis Open in February but has struggled recently—his best finish in a stroke-play event since is T62.

58. Emiliano Grillo

Age: 26
World ranking: 61
Best finish in a major: T12, 2016 U.S. Open

The Argentine finished T2 in the 2016 Barclays at Bethpage and also won PGA Tour rookie of the year that season. He’s struggled with his short game this year, ranking 183rd in strokes gained around the green and 208th in strokes gained putting.

57. Brandt Snedeker

Age: 38
World ranking: 52
Best finish in a major: T3, 2012 British Open

Became the 10th man in Tour history to shoot 59 at last year’s Wyndham Championship, where he took home his ninth PGA Tour victory. Remains one of the best putters in the world, but his combination of short (161st in driving distance) and relatively crooked (100th in driving accuracy) puts him behind the 8-ball this week.

56. Si Woo Kim

Age: 23
World ranking: 53
Best finish in a major: T21, 2019 Masters

The youngest Players champion in history has three top-five finishes this year, including at Pebble Beach and Riviera, but is struggling (140th in strokes gained off the tee) with the driver. That could be troublesome this week.

55. Aaron Wise

Age: 22
World ranking: 63
Best finish in a major: 17, 2019 Masters

Reigning rookie of the year has just one top 10 in his sophomore campaign, and it came way back at November’s Mayakoba Classic. 

54. Sung Kang

Age: 31
World ranking: 75
Best finish in a major: T18, 2016 U.S. Open

Prior to last week, he was best known for a…controversial…drop and a subsequent call-out by Joel Dahmen. Now he’s a PGA Tour winner, having won the AT&T Byron Nelson last week with a winning score of 23 under.

53. Alex Noren

Age: 36
World ranking: 32
Best finish in a major: T6, 2017 British Open

The Swede represented Europe at last year’s Ryder Cup, but 2019 has not been kind to him thus far: in eight stroke-play starts, he’s missed three cuts and his best finish is T28.

52. Ryan Moore

Age: 36
World ranking: 77
Best finish in a major: T9, 2017 Masters

He’s a five-time winner on Tour and he has a sneaky good history at Bethpage: T10 at the ’09 U.S. Open and T7 at the 2016 Barclays.

51. Tyrrell Hatton

Age: 27
World ranking: 38
Best finish in a major: T5, 2016 British Open

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a funnier or more self-deprecating player on Tour than Hatton, but he hasn’t contended in a tournament since October.

50. Ryan Palmer

Age: 42
World ranking: 73
Best finish in a major: T5, 2014 PGA Championship

He teamed with Jon Rahm to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans three weeks ago, his fourth top-10 finish of the season.

49. Jim Furyk

Age: 48
World ranking: 51
Best finish in a major: Won, 2003 U.S. Open

He’s played some exceptional golf since serving as the losing captain for last year’s Ryder Cup team, with six top-20 finishes and a solo second at the Players Championship.

48. Haotong Li

Age: 23
World ranking: 37
Best finish in a major: 3, 2017 British Open

Plays his best golf on the European Tour, where he is a two-time champion. Took fourth in his last start, on home soil at the Volvo China Open.

47. Cameron Smith

Age: 25
World ranking: 29
Best finish in a major: T4, 2015 U.S. Open

The baby-faced Aussie might be the most under-the-radar player in the top 30 of the world rankings. He has a terrific short game, but the ball striking goes wayward at times—he’s 187th in strokes gained off the tee.

46. Jorge Campillo

Age: 32
World ranking: 59
Best finish in a major: MC in both major appearances

The Spaniard has been on an absolutely torrid stretch on the European Tour. In his last six starts, he has a win, two seconds and two third-place finishes. 

45. Byeong Hun An

Age: 27
World ranking: 57
Best finish in a major: T23, 2016 U.S. Open

World-class in virtually every aspect of his game except for putting, as he ranks 207th in strokes gained on the greens this season. Withdrew from his last start at the Wells Fargo Championship with a neck injury.

44. Jason Kokrak

Age: 33
World ranking: 66
Best finish in a major: T21, 2019 Masters

Kokrak has quietly had one of the more consistent seasons of anyone this year—he’s made 20 straight cuts, has four top 10s and ranks an impressive 17th in strokes gained overall. He also finished T7 at the Barclays here in 2016.

43. Keegan Bradley

Age: 32
World ranking: 35
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2011 PGA Championship

Bradley is one of four players ever to win in his first appearance in a major championship. He’s experienced a career resurgence of late, highlighted by a victory at the 2018 BMW Championship, and ranks fourth in the all-important strokes gained approaching the green.

42. Keith Mitchell

Age: 27
World ranking: 56
Best finish in a major: T43, 2019 Masters

The former Georgia Bulldog held off Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler to win his first PGA Tour event at February’s Honda Classic. He ranks ninth in strokes gained off the tee.

41. Branden Grace

Age: 30
World ranking: 48
Best finish in a major: 3, 2015 PGA Championship

The South African has had plenty of success in majors, with finishes of T6 or better in three of the four. He’s also the only player to ever shoot 62 in a major, but his recent form in stroke-play events has been less than optimal.

40. Scott Piercy

Age: 40
World ranking: 64
Best finish in a major: T2, 2016 U.S. Open

At last week’s Byron Nelson, he became the first player since 2010 to complete a 72-hole tournament without a bogey (he finished tied for second). His trusty fade tends to hold up on tough tracks. Evidence: he finished second to Dustin Johnson at Oakmont in 2016.

39. Sungjae Im

Age: 21
World ranking: 60
Best finish in a major: T42, 2018 PGA Championship

The South Korean already has five top 10s in his debut campaign on Tour and is a strong contender for rookie of the year. He led last year’s Tour money list from start to finish.

38. Justin Harding

Age: 33
World ranking: 42
Best finish in a major: T12, 2019 Masters

Harding rode a hot streak to get into the Masters field and kept it going at Augusta, where he birdied the 72nd hole to finish T12 and guarantee his return to Magnolia Lane next year. He’s coming off a T10 at last week’s Byron Nelson.  

37. Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Age: 29
World ranking: 41
Best finish in a major: 15, 2018 U.S. Open

The “Barn Rat,” as the lovable Thai is affectionately known, has won three times on the European Tour and finished T5 at last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson. That was his second top-five of the season, following a T3 at the WGC-Mexico Championship. He can make birdies in bunches. 

36. Lucas Glover

Age: 39
World ranking: 83
Best finish in a major: Won 2009 U.S. Open

Glover won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage and has 11 top-20 finishes in 15 starts on Tour this year. He also ranks 16th in strokes gained tee-to-green and 17th in strokes gained overall. All this to say: it wouldn’t be totally shocking to see him factor on Sunday.

35. Lucas Bjerregaard

Age: 27
World ranking: 44
Best finish in a major: T21, 2019 Masters

The long-hitting Dane announced himself to American golf fans when he defeated Tiger Woods in the quarters of the WGC-Match Play. He projects as a future Ryder Cup force for Team Europe.


34. Jordan Spieth

Age: 25
World ranking: 39
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2015 Masters; ’15 U.S. Open; ’17 British Open

You probably know the drought stats by now, but a refresher: Spieth has no wins since the 2017 British Open, no top 10 finishes since July 2018 and zero top 20s in 13 starts this season. Consequently, he has dropped all the way to world No. 39, a shocking number for a 25-year-old who began his career the way Spieth did. There have been some positive signs—he has eight rounds of 67 or better on the season—and his putting is inching back to world-class status, but he simply hasn’t been able to string four good rounds together. A big reason why: he is among the worst drivers of the ball on Tour, currently ranking outside the top 200 in strokes gained off the tee.

33. Rafa Cabrera Bello

Age: 34
World ranking: 36
Best finish in a major: T4, 2017 British Open

Sweet-swinging Spaniard continues to pile up top-25 finishes but has yet to win on this side of the pond.

32. Eddie Pepperell

Age: 33
World ranking: 28
Best finish in a major: T6, 2018 British Open

He’s probably the funniest professional golfer in the world, but his game is to be taken very seriously. Pepperell finished T3 at the Players Championship and was just one shot out of a playoff at last week’s British Masters.

31. Matt Wallace

Age: 29
World ranking: 31
Best finish in a major: T19, 2018 PGA Championship

Won three times on the European Tour last year and took second in the British Masters last week, his second runner-up finish on that circuit this season. After barely missing out on last year’s Ryder Cup, there’s a good chance he plays his way onto the team this go ‘round.

30. Kevin Kisner

Age: 35
World ranking: 24
Best finish in a major: T2, 2018 British Open

Outspoken South Carolinian won the biggest title of his career at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in March. He ranks 162nd in driving distance, though, which puts him at a disadvantage at beefy Bethpage. In January, he said, “PGA—Bethpage, got no chance there.”

29. Matthew Fitzpatrick

Age: 24
World ranking: 34
Best finish in a major: T7, 2016 Masters

The accurate Brit has five career wins on the European Tour and tends to play difficult courses well. He’s playing stateside more these days, including a solo second at Bay Hill in March.

28. Webb Simpson

Age: 33
World ranking: 19
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2011 U.S. Open

In hindsight, his five-shot victory at last year’s Players Championship was a sign of things to come, rather than a one-off fluke. He’s been very consistent since then, with eight top-20 finishes this season, including in his last three events. He lacks the length Bethpage demands, though, missing the cut in the 2012 Barclays and finishing T48 at the ’16 version.

27. Patrick Reed

Age: 28
World ranking: 20
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2018 Masters

The controversial 28-year-old won the most recent PGA Tour event at Bethpage, the 2016 Barclays, and he won the Masters just 13 months ago. It’s been a bit of slog recently, though, as he has no top 10s in 13 PGA Tour starts in 2019.

26. Marc Leishman

Age: 35
World ranking: 23
Best finish in a major: T2, 2015 British Open

The easygoing Aussie pulled out of last week’s Byron Nelson with a back injury but said he expects to be good to go this week. He’s made 12 straight cuts in major championships.

25. Hideki Matusyama

Age: 27
World ranking: 30
Best finish in a major: T2, 2017 U.S. Open

Great ball strikers tend to rise to the top of leaderboards at majors, and Matsuyama is an elite ball striker. It’s no coincidence, then, that he has finished T6 or better in all four majors. He ranks third in strokes gained tee to green this season but is having one of his worst putting seasons ever, ranking 165th in strokes gained putting and 201st in three-putt avoidance.

24. Bubba Watson

Age: 40
World ranking: 18
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2012, ’14 Masters

He’s been just OK this year, with his top finishes being T4s at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Valspar Championship, but if he drives the ball well this week, he has a chance. And he has been driving it well—Watson ranks fourth in strokes gained off the tee and, despite now being north of 40, he’s still seventh in driving distance. He finished T13 at the 2016 Barclays here and T10 in the ’12 Barclays.

23. Henrik Stenson

Age: 43
World ranking: 40
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2016 British Open

He’s been a bit of a curious case this year, as he ranks second in the usually telling strokes gained approach statistic but does not have a top 10 in a stroke-play event all season. Still, 10 of his last 12 rounds have been under par, and you can count on one hand the players who strike their irons better than Stenson does. He finished ninth here at the 2009 U.S. Open, though his continued hesitance to hit driver will put extra pressure on his long-iron game this week.

22. Louis Oosthuizen

Age: 29
World ranking: 21
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2010 British Open

You won’t find a prettier swing in golf than Oosthuizen’s, and he’s on a solid run of form recently—T2 at the Valspar Championship, T5 at the WGC-Match Play and T29 at the Masters. He finished T5 here at the 2012 Barclays.

21. Ian Poulter

Age: 43
World ranking: 28
Best finish in a major: 2, 2008 British Open

The famously (infamously?) charismatic Brit is having a fantastic year—he has nine top-25 finishes in his 11 PGA Tour starts this season and top 20s in all six European Tour starts in 2019. At 43, his window to win a major championship is closing, and his game seems better fit for Pebble Beach or Royal Portrush, but he is a true gamer…and you can never rule out a true gamer.

20. Gary Woodland

Age: 34
World ranking: 25
Best finish in a major: T6, 2018 PGA Championship

The long-hitting Kansan held the 36-hole lead at last year’s PGA Championship before a mediocre weekend. He’s cooled off a bit since a torrid start to the season, but he still ranks seventh in strokes gained off the tee and 23rd in strokes gained overall. He tied for fourth here at the 2016 Barclays.

19. Adam Scott

Age: 38
World ranking: 27
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2013 Masters

The Aussie with the picturesque swing is enjoying a resurgence after dipping as low as 76th in the world last summer. Still an elite ball striker, he leads the tour in approaches from 100-125 yards and finished T4 at the 2016 Barclays here. The issue with Scott seems to be his ever-changing putting style, and he was difficult to watch on the greens at Augusta, but it’s hard to argue with the numbers—he’s 15th in strokes gained putting this year.


18. Tony Finau

Age: 29
World ranking: 15
Best finish in a major: 5, 2018 U.S. Open

Finau’s electric game, infectious smile and propensity to show up in big tournaments has made him a household name, so it’s easy to forget that he still has just won PGA Tour victory on his résumé (the 2016 Puerto Rico Open). He tied a PGA Championship single-round record with 10 birdies in a second-round 66 last year at Bellerive.

17. Bryson DeChambeau

Age: 25
World ranking: 8
Best finish in a major: T15, 2016 U.S. Open

The famously meticulous American—with his single-length irons and one-plane swing and science-over-everything approach and physics degree from SMU—was arguably the best player in the world during a stretch in which he won four times in nine starts. He’s cooled considerably since then, with no top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour since January.

16. Phil Mickelson

Age: 48
World ranking: 22
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2004, ’06, ’10 Masters; 2005 PGA Championship; 2013 British Open

The season arc looks eerily similar to last year’s, when he started out hot but faded due to fatigue in the summer. He’s missed three of his last five cuts, including his last time out at the Wells Fargo Championship. But he should be rested after taking last week off, and he has a phenomenal history at Bethpage, finishing second in both U.S. Opens here and taking T13 at the 2016 Barclays. As always, his chances of contending will depend largely on whether he can find fairways with the big stick.

15. Sergio Garcia

Age: 39
World ranking: 26
Best finish in a major: Won 2017 Masters

Garcia has a complicated history with Bethpage. He was famously heckled by fans for his incessant re-gripping of the club at the 2002 U.S. Open—they counted each waggle—but finished tied for second. Seven years later, he picked up another top 10 when the Open returned to Farmingdale. This year has been eventful for mostly the wrong reasons, as he’s been engulfed in two unbecoming ordeals: one for destroying greens in Saudi Arabia, another for a match-play kerfuffle with Matt Kuchar. He seems to have turned a corner on the course, at least, with top-fives in three of his last four starts.

14. Paul Casey

Age: 41
World ranking: 12
Best finish in a major: T3, 2010 British Open

Casey is having one of the best seasons of his accomplished career, he won at the Valspar Championship, finished second at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and third at the WGC-Mexico Championship. He turned in a bitterly disappointing showing at Augusta, where an opening-round 81 ended his tournament before it ever really began, but he bounced back with a T4 finish two weeks ago at Quail Hollow.  

13. Patrick Cantlay

Age: 27
World ranking: 17
Best finish in a major: T9, 2019 Masters

One of the best ball strikers on Tour, bar none, and that should serve him well on a track that asks as many questions as Bethpage does. Former UCLA Bruin briefly held the solo lead on Sunday at the Masters before fading with two late bogeys. He ranks sixth on Tour in strokes gained overall, and a breakout victory is a matter of when, not if.

12. Tommy Fleetwood

Age: 28
World ranking: 16
Best finish in a major: 2, 2018 U.S. Open

Despite the fact that he still hasn’t won a PGA Tour event, Fleetwood is every bit good enough to win a major championship right now. He proved that in shooting a closing 63 at last year’s U.S. Open, and he’s continued to be a fixture on the big leaderboards. The ball-striking stats are predictably fantastic, as he ranks fourth in strokes gained tee-to-green and fifth in strokes gained total. One concerning trend: he has struggled to avoid blow-up rounds while in contention on the weekend.

11. Jason Day

Age: 31
World ranking: 14
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2015 PGA Championship

The oft-injured Australian is again dealing with an achy back—he reportedly tweaked it while picking up his daughter at the Masters—but it didn’t stop him at Augusta, where he finished T5. Day holds the all-time PGA Championship record for lowest score in relation to par with his winning 20-under total at Whistling Straits in 2015, and he finished T4 at Bethpage in the 2016 Barclays. He ranks fifth in strokes gained off the tee, which will be key this week, and 11th in strokes gained putting, but he has dropped a notch from his world-beating form of 2015-16.

10. Rickie Fowler

Age: 30
World ranking: 10
Best finish in a major: 2, 2018 Masters

Golf’s Commercial King is still in search of that maiden major championship victory, but it’s not for a lack of close calls. There was 2014, when he finished in the top 5 in each of the four majors. There was also last year’s Masters, when he birdied the 18th hole to ultimately finish one shot behind Patrick Reed. This year, he’s got a victory (Waste Management Phoenix Open), a second (Honda Classic) and took T9 at the Masters. The odds say Fowler will eventually get his major if he continues putting himself in position as often as he has. There’s no reason it can’t be this week at Bethpage, where he finished T7 in the 2016 Barclays.


9. Xander Schauffele

Age: 25
World ranking: 9
Best finish in a major: T2, 2019 Masters

He doesn’t get the same attention that his fellow 25-year-old Americans do (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau), but that’s due to his demeanor, not his game. Consider this: Schauffele has finished in the top six in four of his first eight major appearances. The only other player to do that? Jack Nicklaus. He already has two wins on the year, including a WGC, and he finished one shot behind Tiger Woods at the Masters. It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see Schauffele hoisting the Wanamaker come Sunday afternoon.

8. Matt Kuchar

Age: 40
World ranking: 13
Best finish in a major: 2, 2017 British Open

At 40, he’s running out of time to remove himself from the Best Player to Never Win a Major conversation, but he’s playing some of the best golf of his career. Already owning two victories this year, Kuchar—whose reputation was irreversibly tarnished by that caddie stiffing scandal—also has two second-place finishes on the season, including in his last start at the RBC Heritage. It’s hard to call the FedEx Cup points leader a sleeper this week, but doesn’t it feel like he’s flying under the radar?

7. Jon Rahm

Age: 24
World ranking: 11
Best finish in a major: 4, 2018 Masters

Rahm is a world-class talent, and there is no doubt he will win a major championship in due time. The question is whether he’s mentally ready to do so right now—no one runs hotter than he does, and while his fiery competitiveness is one of his biggest assets, it can also be a detriment on a course as demanding as Bethpage. He finished in the top 10 at the Masters and teamed with Ryan Palmer to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in his only tournament since, so form certainly isn’t an issue. And he’s second on Tour in strokes gained off the tee, possessing a unique blend of power and control with the driver. He is absolutely a threat to win the title this week, should he keep his wits about him.

6. Justin Rose

Age: 38
World ranking: 2
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2013 U.S. Open

He seems to have put his shocking missed cut at the Masters behind him, as he put together four under-par rounds to finish solo third at Quail Hollow. A ruthlessly consistent player, he has 11 top-10 finishes in his last 16 worldwide starts, including wins at the Turkish Airlines Open and the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. He’s another player who could be reasonably disappointed to have only won one major, and it would be a shame if he let this prime window come and go without adding to that total. There’s no reason that can’t happen this week.

5. Francesco Molinari

Age: 36
World ranking: 7
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2018 British Open

The reigning British Open champion was in complete control of the Masters through 54 holes, methodically tearing apart Augusta en route to a two-shot advantage heading into Sunday. That’s a more apropos picture of the player Molinari is than what happened on Sunday, when he made two double-bogeys on the back nine to finish T5. And don’t put too much stock into his missed cut at the RBC Heritage—he looked to be half asleep the entire week, which is understandable given how taxing Sunday at Augusta must have been. He has blossomed into the type of player who can contend on any golf course, Bethpage included, but he’ll need to be at his machine-like best off the tee if he is to keep pace with the bombers.

4. Rory McIlroy

Age: 30
World ranking: 4
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2011 U.S. Open; 2012, ’14 PGA Championship; 2014 British Open

He entered the Masters as the clear favorite, due to a remarkably consistent campaign that already includes a Players Championship victory and eight top 10s in 10 starts. Then he put forward a listless performance at Augusta, not getting anything going until a final-round 68, and he seems to have lost a bit of momentum since TPC Sawgrass. Still, he leads the Tour in strokes gained off the tee, strokes gained tee to green and strokes gained overall, and he’s one of a handful of players who can dust a field of the best players in the world. Bethpage is a solid fit for him—as a 20-year-old, he finished 10th in the 2009 U.S. Open here—and he comes in off a T8 at the Wells Fargo that would have been better if not for a final-round 73. If he can get the putter hot this week, he will have a great chance to pick up major number five.

3. Dustin Johnson

Age: 34
World ranking: 1
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2016 U.S. Open

DJ’s tie for second at the Masters saw him re-take the world No. 1 spot, a position he’s now held for a total of 90 weeks. He also picked up victory No. 20 by winning the WGC-Mexico Championship by five, a peak into what he’s capable of when he’s firing on all cylinders. It is somewhat curious, then, that he only has one major to his name. He gets another chance to add to his already Hall of Fame résumé this week, and it’s hard to believe he’ll let his prime window come and go without winning at least one more. His ball-striking stats are predictably fantastic this year—seventh in strokes gained tee-to-green—but it’s his improved short-game numbers (third in strokes gained putting, fourth in three-putt avoidance, third in sand save percentage) that jump off the page. According to the algorithms that determine this sort of thing, he is the best player in the world, and Bethpage is as good a place as ever to add another huge title—he finished T3 here at the 2012 Barclays.


2. Tiger Woods

Age: 43
World ranking: 6
Best finish in a major: WIN, 1997, ’01, ’02, '05, '19 Masters; ’99, ’00, ’06, ’07, PGA Championship; ’00, ’02, ’08 U.S. Open; ’00, ’05, ’06 British Open

He’s the only player on the planet who can still win the Grand Slam this year. The last time we saw Tiger play was at Augusta, where he completed a storybook comeback to win his fifth green jacket and 15th major overall. He now returns, with his game right where it needs to be, to a course where he won the U.S. Open in 2002 and finished T6 in 2009. As a result, he is the oddsmakers’ favorite to win the title this week, and for once, that doesn’t feel like so much of a sucker bet. He’s going to have to avoid the big miss with the driver—you can’t get away with the foul balls at Bethpage like you can at Augusta—but if he can give himself enough looks from the fairway, there is no one better at attacking pins. He’s been in contention in each of the last three majors; look for that streak to extend to four.

1. Brooks Koepka

Age: 28
World ranking: 3
Best finish in a major: WIN, 2017, ’18 U.S. Open, ‘18 PGA Championship

It’s hard to overstate just how well Koepka has fared in recent majors. Since the beginning of the 2016 PGA, he is 55 under par in golf’s four biggest tournaments, a full 15 shots better than anyone else. In the seven major he’s played since then, he has three wins, a runner-up, a fourth and a sixth. Moreover, despite the fact that he finished T70 at the Barclays here in 2016, Bethpage seems to be a perfect fit for 2019 Brooks Koepka—it will put a premium on driving the ball long and straight, and there is no better driver of the golf ball (especially under pressure) than Koepka. Even better, last week’s appearance at the AT&T Byron Nelson went about as well as possible: four rounds of 68 or better without having to endure the mental exhaustion of being in contention down the stretch. The defending PGA champion is the man to beat this week.