World ranking (current/end of year)
Current 2020 Stats
FedEx Cup Rank: 12th
Top 10: 3
Top 25: 7
Made Cut: 7
Off-The-Tee: 18th (2019: 22nd, 2018: 57th, 2017: 17th)
Approach: 14th (2019: 26th, 2018: 64th, 2017: 108th)
Around The Green: 58th (2019: 40th, 2018: 113th, 2017: 138th)
Putting: 119th (2019: 46th, 2018: 66th, 2017: 27th)
Tee-To-Green: 9th (2019: 11th, 2018: 62nd, 2017: 57th)
Total: 9th (2019: 8th, 2018: 46th, 2017: 34th)
It’s hard to believe the Californian who missed seven cuts in eight starts early in his rookie year of 2016-17 is the same man who, once he made a breakthrough, took no time thriving in the big events and has now spent three years in and around the world’s top ten. Statistically, his Sophomore campaign went backward, nor did he win in 2017-18, but the results were solid enough. Since then he has settled (with two wins last season). Off the Tee he is back to his normal standards and this year he has been better than ever in Approach and Tee to Green. Around the Green needs work and this season’s Putting will be a concern (indeed, in three of his last four starts he was outside the top 50 in this category). Two of his top tens in 2020 have been seconds – when defending the HSBC Champions and Tournament of Champions.
Grade so far: C+
Farmers Insurance Open (on the state of his golf): “I feel like my game is slowly maturing. I'm more comfortable out here. I don't panic as much each year that I play out here. Usually, when I'm comfortable I play good golf. It would be awesome to win a major this year.”
Farmers Insurance Open (on his putting): “(My coach) Derek would say I was a terrible putter prior (to working with him), but I always had decent feel, so it wasn't like I had brick hands for the most part. Working with him on the basics and fundamentals of putting, it sort of helped me get more confident on the greens on a day-to-day basis. At no point would I consider myself a bad putter now, whereas in college I did.”
Tournament of Champions (on the next win): “I haven't really won enough. I've only won four tournaments. It would have been nice to be a little more mature at the right time ... I can win. I think that's pretty plain and simple. I'm good enough to hang with the best, and I just need to be a little bit smarter when the time is right and able to close it out.”
THE MAJORS (most recent result on the left)
The Masters: 2-50
His debut was a tough experience, with laps of 78 and 75 to go with a 71 and 72, and the first round last year followed a similar path – a 73 leaving him T44. But a second round 65 left him heading into the weekend just one shot back of the lead and he ended the tournament second in the field and first for Putts per Green in Regulation. He said straight afterward: “I’m not one bit sad. I told my caddie on the last hole that we just proved to ourselves that we can win on this property.”
PGA Championship: 16-35-MC
He’s yet to entirely get to grips with this challenge. But let’s look on the bright side. His top 20 last year is one of seven in 11 major championship starts (he also has seven in 11 WGC starts).
U.S. Open: 3-6-5
It would obviously be churlish to poo-poo a man who has a 100% record at hitting the top six, but he’ll want to win his national championship and the key to that is getting in-contention after 54 holes, something he is yet to do. In 2017 he was T10 at that stage (five shots back of the lead), in 2018 T16 (again five back) and last year T14 (eight). If he can get closer to the top of the leaderboard and maintain his stunning record in the final round (shooting 69-68-67) he’ll be a real threat.
Open Championship: 41-2-20
A logbook that features plenty of low scores, but also some large numbers. On debut in 2017 he safely made the cut without featuring on the leaderboard before a Sunday 65 earned him a top 20. A year later he opened 71-66-67 to tie the 54-hole lead, but closed with a 74. Last year he limped home on Thursday with a 74, made the weekend with a 65, added a Saturday 69 and then bid farewell to Portrush with a 78 amid the filthy weather.