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A new big 3?

PGA Tour Pro and D3 Golf Advisor Nick O'Hern shares his insights on the rise of Scheffler, Rahm and Rory to the top.

Scottie Scheffler is numero uno once again. He regained the top spot in the Official World

Golf Rankings from Jon Rahm last week after a final round masterclass in The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. When Rahm withdrew due to illness, Scheffler needed a finish of fourth place or higher to overtake the Spaniard and in the end won in a canter. It was the weakest Players field assembled in quite some time, a result of several top players departing for the controversial LIV Golf League a year ago. Last year’s Players champion Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Brooks Koepka, the most prominent players to leave. The allure of huge, guaranteed money seemingly too good to pass up. Their ensuing ban from the PGA Tour meant defending champ Smith couldn’t participate, although he did actually play at Sawgrass during the week. It was just on one of the other golf courses on property.

Scheffler though was the man of the moment and took out his sixth title in 27 starts, a winning ratio bettered only by Rahm (5 wins from 11 events) and Rory McIlroy who has won 4 out of his last 16 worldwide starts. Between the three of them they’ve been jockeying for the number one ranking over the last year or so and their winning streaks are akin to that of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus throughout their playing careers.

“All this begs the question – Are we looking at a new big 3 in golf?”

The most famous big 3 was Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player. Their major championship record of 18 for Jack, 7 for Palmer, and 9 for Player is staggering. It pales in comparison however to tennis’s version of the big 3 – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. They’ve accounted for 63 out of the last 76 major championship titles. Let me say that again, 63 out of 76!! And two of them (Rafa and Novak) are still playing. Yes, tennis is a completely different beast to golf when it comes to domination of a sport, but that stat is simply ridiculous. Tiger and Nicklaus dominated golf in their playing periods but even they only won around 20% of the time, and to have three golfers dominating at once? It’s virtually unheard of.

You could say there have been other big 3’s in golf. Before Jack, Arnie, and Gary there was Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, and Byron Nelson, but their peaks were at different times, especially Nelson who retired in 1946 at the age of 34, a year after winning 18 times in one season, a mere eleven of those in a row! The 80’s threesome of Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, and Seve Ballesteros could have a case as a triumvirate, and Tiger, Phil Mickelson, and Ernie Els sort of come close but, really it was mostly Tiger.

This time though in Scottie, Rahm and Rory we potentially have the real deal. Obviously, their major tallies need serious addition to, but it’s nice to dream a little right? I’m even willing to go out on a limb here and say they will split the 4 majors between them in 2023. One of them winning two, with a major each for the others. Selfishly, I’d love an Aussie to take one out but, in any case, we’re in for a fun ride watching the four most important men’s tournaments in golf this year being contested by ALL the best players in the world.

Bring on the Masters!

Nick O'Hern

PGA Tour Pro and D3 Golf Board Member and Advisor

Nicholas Simon O'Hern (born 18 October 1971) is an Australian Professional Golfer. Nick has played on both of the world's premier professional golf tours, the European Tour, and the United States-based PGA Tour. His biggest successes though, have come at home on the PGA Tour of Australasia, where he won the Order of Merit as the leading money winner in 2006.

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