Professional golf is mired deep in a game-changing off-course conflict, but thankfully there is so much talent on the course for us to focus on. With an experienced band of pros scrapping to hold off the charge of a new breed of superstar, every event is left filled with drama.
So, as you can expect, drawing up this definitive list was more than a tough task. We considered the players’ technical ability, current world ranking and recent performances to compile this final countdown.
Our criteria means that this list currently omits some top-level players – like long-injured Will Zalatoris – but, with the huge amount of golf played around the world, all could change over the course of a course.
RadioTimes.com brings you our take on the best men's golf players in the world right now.
10. Victor Hovland
We start with the former world number three and Norway’s finest, Victor Hovland. The young man from Oslo has started his pro career as a one-win-a-season player – earning three PGA Tour wins over three seasons – but is running especially hot in the 2022-23 season. He’s really got his eye in, bagging nine top 25 finishes – and five top 10s – in his first twelve events of the season.
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Big performances in The Players Championship and the Masters have reiterated his standing among the very best in today’s game. His recoveries from the rough and precision putting, in particular, helps him compete with the elite.
9. Matt Fitzpatrick
The 28-year-old from Sheffield is the only Englishman on our list, but he is unique for more than just this reason. He’s not the longest driver around, his cross-handed chipping technique looks odd and he may only have two Tour victories to his name, but Fitzpatrick is combining his distinctive talents to perform at a very high level.
Those two wins were really sealed in style. His first was a major, the 2022 US Open, and his second was as dramatic as they come: winning this season’s RBC Heritage on the third playoff hole. He’ll hope to make winning more of a routine in the coming months.
8. Jordan Spieth
At 29 years old, the Under Armour athlete is one of the older players on this fresh-faced countdown. He’s a former world number one but of late Spieth is missing the regular victories that made him a bonafide golf star between 2015 and 2017.
The three-time major winner has flashes of true brilliance in every round, but they are too often mixed with missed opportunities. While his form may not always match his obvious ability, recent showings indicate that Spieth is a golfer getting back to his best. He was in the running at the Masters and only missed out on back-to-back RBC Heritage crowns in April via a hole out heartbreak and some Matt Fitzpatrick magic. On his day, Spieth is uncatchable.
7. Max Homa
The six-time PGA Tour winner is already having a career-best season. Victories at the Fortinet Championship and Farmers Insurance Open have helped him fly up the FedEx Cup rankings and prove that he’s a fierce, talented competitor.
Homa is one of the elite putters in the game, helped in no small part by the ice running through his veins. His hard work and dedication have helped him consistently up his levels since joining the PGA Tour. Let’s see just how far he can go.
6. Xander Schauffele
The young American boasts one thing that no other golfer on this list has. He may not yet have a major to his name – though he has two second place finishes – but Schauffele is one of just two male golfers to have won Olympic gold in the modern era.
Schauffele is known for his all-round excellence on the course and is proving it in 2023. Strong showings at the RBC Heritage and the WGC Match Play have reiterated the Californian’s status in the game. His sights will be set on capitalising on his recent momentum and turning it into the victories that would catapult him even higher on this list.
5. Patrick Cantlay
Solid. It’s a word that pops up when people talk of Patrick Cantlay’s golf. He uses it about himself. It undervalues the understated brilliance of the 2021 PGA Tour Player of the Year.
Patty Ice is a composure king and one of the best par-5 players in the world. He has a handy blend of distance and accuracy with his driver, while his consistency of action and performance means he’s routinely in the running at big tournaments. This stability has helped him leave eight PGA Tour events victorious, with plenty more close calls to his name. The California native is, however, missing the major victory which would establish him as the equal of the world’s most elite golfers. It could well be on its way.
4. Cameron Smith
The Australian is an exceptional golfer and the only member of the LIV Golf roster to make our list. His decision to join the breakaway league has seen him fall from second to eighth in the Official World Golf Rankings, but this is hardly a reflection of the quality of his golf.
The moustachioed, mullet-rocking golfer isn’t the longest driver around but makes up for it by having mastered the short game, draining chip-ins and putts with regularity. This has helped him make history already: the 29-year-old was the first player to finish all four rounds at the Masters in the 60s back in 2020.
3. Rory McIlroy
Rory is the face of golf. Ever since winning the US Open as a 22-year-old, McIlroy has had golf’s brightest spotlight pointed toward him. He’s still going strong all these years later. He’s the longest driver on the PGA Tour today and his control of the golf ball is truly incredible.
The Northern Irish star was top of the world rankings as recently as last year, but a loss of consistency has seen the 33-year-old cede a little ground. He recently missed cuts at the Masters and The Players Championship but, thanks to his overflowing talent and determination, we know Rory will be winning majors again very soon.
2. Scottie Scheffler
Age works a little differently in golf to most other sports, which makes the success Scottie Scheffler has had at just 26 years of age even more impressive. The Texas resident had a standout 2022 – winning the PGA Tour Player of the Year – and is following it up with an equally outstanding 2023, already having bagged the WM Phoenix Open and The Players Championship.
Scheffler is a golfer with untold success ahead of him. He’s already playing at remarkably high level – nobody gets to the green with more conviction and class than Scottie - and is only just pipped to the top of the podium on this list.
1. Jon Rahm
The green jacket suits Jon Rahm. The breakout Spanish star is following in the footsteps of fellow countryman and inspiration Seve Ballesteros by excelling on the PGA Tour. His four-shot Masters victory earlier this year is already the cherry on the top of a landmark season, with Rahm having bagged four wins in the first third of 2023. Even in a narrow defeat at the Mexico Open, the Spaniard managed to hit a course record 61.
The 2021 U.S. Open winner is in the form of his life, finishing in the top ten of nearly all his PGA Tour entries this season, and is showing an ability to channel his emotions like never before. He hits fairways with power, greens with precision and putts with deadly dependability. We won’t be betting against Rahm as he tries to chase down his idol’s legacy in the coming years.
Who is the best golfer in the world?
The depth of ability in the modern golf scene is outstanding, with experienced heads battling exceptional youngsters and talented outsiders at every event.
We are, however, witnessing the emergence of a potential generational talent in Jon Rahm. His rise to the top of the world over the past year shows us all that he is a golfer driven to write his name large in the history books.