It’s fair to say that the 2022 golf season has been nothing short of surprises thus far, with several unexpected names raising to the fore of the sport while the likes of Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka — players usually favoured in the golf odds ahead of major tournaments — have all faltered to deceive.
Having recently passed the halfway point of the season and with the second major of the campaign, the PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club, on the horizon, now seems like the perfect time to take stock of this year’s standout players. Read on to find more!
There’s no better place to start than with Scottie Scheffler! After the year he has had, the 25-year-old must be pinching himself. From winning his first PGA Tour event to becoming a green jacket winner at the Masters, few could have expected such a rise to prominence from Scheffler. But it has been a real feel-good story in the world of golf.
The Ryder Cup winner got off the mark with a victory in the Phoenix Open in February and he has used the momentum that came with that triumph to make him the best golfer in the world on current form.
Wins in both the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the World Golf Match Play followed, but it was at Augusta National that he became globally recognised — holding his nerve on Masters Sunday as Rory McIlroy surged up the leaderboard, beating the Northern Irishman to golf’s top prize by three strokes.
Australian Cameron Smith has shown glimpses of quality in previous years, winning three PGA Tour events between 2017 and 2021 and finishing second to Dustin Johnson at the rescheduled 2020 Masters. But this is the first season he has really shown that he isn’t just on the Tour to make up the numbers and win the odd event.
The 28-year-old had a good start to the season, lifting the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January, but it is his Players Championship victory that is the real talking point of his year thus far.
The next best thing to a major, the Players triumph is his biggest triumph of his career to date and he’ll be hoping to kick on from that with a win in one of the big four. He recorded another fantastic victory at the Masters (T3), but his form has dipped a bit. So, it will be interesting to see how he fairs at the PGA.
The United States’ joint-top points scorer at last year’s rescheduled Ryder Cup, recording 3.5 points as the US regained the title, Patrick Cantlay has been nothing if not consistent so far this season — racking up an impressive six top 10 finishes in his 10 events to date.
After finishing second to Scheffler in the Phoenix Open, losing out on the title to his American compatriot via a dramatic play-off, the 30-year-old went through somewhat of a rough patch — failing to finish in the top 20 at four consecutive tournaments, including the Masters, and missing the cut at the Players.
It’s hard to believe Cantlay doesn’t have a major victory on his CV, but he’s found a bit of form at the right time perhaps — suffering another play-off defeat at the RBC Heritage, this time coming up short against Jordan Spieth, before winning the Zurich Classic of New Orleans with Xander Schauffele. It will be interesting to see if he can carry that momentum into the PGA.