It’s difficult to remember another time in golf when three players had an argument for the crown of world No. 1.
Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy all sat atop the Official World Golf Ranking at some point in February and it’s now the Spaniard — thanks to his win at the Genesis Invitational — who’s looking down on everyone else.
Prior to the start of this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, the third designated event in four weeks on the PGA Tour, all three players were asked about the others — more specifically: what they admire about the other’s games.
“I think both guys have the ability to hit a lot of shots,” Scheffler said Wednesday afternoon. “You obviously have Rory with his length. They both have the ability to hit the ball extremely high and get to a lot of pins that most players out here can’t get to.
“Then I think mostly I admire a lot of their competitiveness. I think that’s what you see from the guys that are able to make it to the top numerous times.”
McIlroy has spent 122 weeks as world No. 1, fourth all-time behind Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and Dustin Johnson. Rahm, on the other hand, is in the midst of his 45th week atop the golf world.
The Northern Irishman appreciates the consistency both players have displayed over the last year-and-a-half.
“All of it,” said McIlroy. “I think I love Scottie’s attitude. His attitude I think is one of the best out here. I think he’s got a wonderful perspective on things. He does it his own way. He’s got his own move. It’s very individual.
“You could say the same thing about Rahmbo. Rahmbo’s certainly got his own move and individual. Probably approaches the game a little differently than the way Scottie does. But both ways obviously work for them.
“The one thing about both of them over the past 12-to-18 months has just been their consistency. They have both been relentless. If it’s not a win, they’re contending. Very rarely have you seen these guys in the past 12 or 18 months outside of the top 10, top 15, top 20. So just that relentless consistency week after week, month after month, building a really great body of work between them.”
Rahm, like most Tour fans, is enamored with McIlroy’s ability to drive the golf ball. For Scottie, it’s his knack to score well even on days when he doesn’t have his best stuff.
“I mean, they’re both great competitors, great, great competitors. Rory, it’s hard to say anything about Rory that hasn’t been said already. When he’s firing on all cylinders, it’s a thing of beauty. The way he hits the ball and his ball flight off the tee, especially, is quite unique.
“Scottie, I would say he has a great ability to post a really good score. There’s a lot of times where I’ve played with him and maybe it doesn’t look the prettiest, but you end up the round and, oh, 67. It’s pretty remarkable.
“Obviously both great players, both great champions, both of ’em work really, really hard at their game. That’s what I would say about each one. I know we mention Rory’s driving all the time, but it really is something to admire when you see it in person.”
Scheffler and McIlroy can both regain No. 1 in the OWGR this week.
#OWGR No.1 watch:
These are the detailed scenarios for world No.1 at the @APinv this week… pic.twitter.com/lWpztOUuS3
— Nosferatu (@VC606) February 27, 2023
With how all three players have performed over the past 12 months, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see this battle for the top spot linger into the late summer.