There is, of course, a Major championship on the line this week at the Masters, winning the green jacket being the first and foremost thing on players’ minds. But for a trio of golfers, another prize is available with a solid showing: the title of world No.1.
Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth all have the chance to climb past Dustin Johnson, who has been No.1 for the past 59 weeks, if certain scenarios play out.
Thomas has the easiest path. If he wins the Masters, he automatically rises to the top regardless of how anyone else performs (which seems only fair in that he’ll have won the past two Majors; you should be No.1 if that’s the case).
A series of other top finishes also could do the trick for Thomas:
• Solo second and Johnson finishing outside the top-three
• Solo third and Johnson finishing outside the top-eight
• Solo fourth and Johnson finishing outside the the top-20, and Rahm and Spieth don’t win
• Solo fifth and Johnson misses the cut, and Rahm and Spieth don’t win
Two weeks ago at the WGC-Dell Match Play, Thomas had a shot at becoming No.1, and noted that he struggled keeping it out of his mind as he worked his way through the matchplay bracket.
“I haven’t had such a hard time not thinking about something so much,” Thomas said after his semi-final loss to Bubba Watson. “And that really sucked. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, to be perfectly honest.”
Something tells us the weight of a Major will be enough to keep the spectre of becoming No.1 from becoming too overwhelming.
Rahm can jump to No.1 with a victory as well, but he doesn’t entirely control his own destiny. He also needs Johnson to finish outside the top-eight and Thomas to finish outside the top-three.
Spieth, who was No.1 on three separate occasions in 2015, can return there again if he wins this Masters, Johnson finishes outside the top-10 and Thomas finishes outside the top-three.
There’s one other player whose spot on the Official World Golf Ranking might be of interest: Tiger Woods. He’s currently ranked 103rd. With a victory at Augusta, he could climb as high as 22nd. A runner-up finish could push him to 38th and a top-three finish gives him a chance to move inside the top-50. The lowest-ranked Masters winner since the OWGR began in 1986? That was 69th-ranked Angel Cabrera nine years ago.