Golf is in the middle of a revolution and a revival at the same time. With more mid-20s' names rising through the ranks and cementing places in the World Top 10, we almost forget that some of the sports most iconic names (and one in particular) are making climbs back to the top.
2018 proved to be a year that represented the exciting, but somewhat odd, current state of the sport. Five different players held the world No.1 ranking this year, which lead to as much uncertainty around the sport as it does clarity.
With so many twists and turns throughout the past 12 months, we're looking at those who played the best, won the most and left a mark on 2018.
Official World Ranking: 1
Were you expecting anyone else to start this list off with? The Jupiter, Florida native put together an immaculate 2018 campaign on the PGA Tour, claiming both the U.S Open and the PGA Championship in one calendar year. He became the first golfer since 1989 to win back-to-back U.S. Opens after conquering the difficult weather that plagued Shinnecock Hills this summer.
But what we'll remember most about the 28-year old's career-defining year was his stoic demeanor down the backstretch of both of his major championship wins. Koepka proved to have the disposition of a grizzled young veteran, and never faulted as he held a late lead in both championships.
Official World Ranking: 2
While he didn't leave 2018 with a major championship, Justin Rose left his mark by being the most successful golfer in major championships who didn't earn any hardware. Rose shot a cumulative score of 12-under par throughout all four major championships, the best of any golfer who competed in the quartet of competitions.
The 38-year old Brit was also a member of the dominant Team Europe in the 2018 Ryder Cup.
Lastly, Rose claimed the season-ending FedEx Cup after finishing as the points leader throughout the playoffs. The FedEx Cup victory earned him a $10 million payday.
Official World Ranking: 3
The long-time World No.1 had a steady 2018 season, winning three tournaments— the Sentry Tournament of Champions, FedEx St. Jude Classic and RBC Canadian Open. With the victory at the Tournament of Champions, Johnson extended his streak of 11 straight years with a tournament win on the PGA Tour.
But while Johnson isn't exiting the year with a major trophy, he is the man who had undoubtedly the most impressive shot of the year. Here is what Johnson did from 430 yards out at the Kapalua Plantation Course.
Is this guy even human?! pic.twitter.com/EQj2EYUWWn— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) January 8, 2018
Official World Ranking: 5
Golf's most interesting personality won four tournaments in 2018, securing a reoccurring spot in the World Top 10. DeChambeau's scientific approach to the sport has paid off, and earned him both the respect and vitriol of other golfers on the tour.
The 25-year old's biggest conquest of the year was his consecutive playoff wins in The Northern Trust tournament and the Dell Technologies Championship.
While unsuccessful as a whole, DeChambeau was one of Jim Furyk's picks for Team USA at the 2018 Ryder Cup. DeChambeau finished the tournament with zero wins and three losses.
Official World Ranking: 7
What a year for the Italian. If not for Koepka's major success in 2018, Francesco Molinari would likely have run away with golfer of the year honors this year.
Molinari won his first PGA Tour Title in July, becoming the first Italian to ever win a major championship when he claimed The Open 2018. He finished off the year by becoming the first European to go 5-0 at the Ryder Cup.
It was a year for the record books for Molinari, and he topped it off by dethroning Ryder Cup partner Tommy Fleetwood to become the 2018 European Tour Champion.Get your Official Ticket Package to The Open Championship 2019!
Official World Ranking: 14
Tiger is back. After almost chasing down Koepka in the 2018 PGA Championship, Woods put his name back on the map as a serious contender. If his performance at Bellerive wasn't enough, Woods went on to win his 80th tournament on the PGA Tour when he won the Tour Championship.
Woods isn't back into the prime form that dominated the sport for over a decade, but all signs are pointing upward for the biggest name in the sport heading into next year.
It may come off as hyperbolic, but Tommy Fleetwood is the most dangerous man in the sport. If you're looking for proof, check out his performance in the fourth round of the U.S Open. Fleetwood delivered the round of the year at Shinnecock, shooting an unbelievable 63 on the last 18 holes to try and track down a consistent Koepka. It was an awe-inspiring performance that only points towards future success for the 27-year old.
Fleetwood also went global in 2018, teaming with Molinari to create golf's most exciting tag team — Moliwood. The pairing went 4-0 at the Ryder Cup for Team Europe, becoming the first European duo to ever accomplish the feat. If everything pans out, these two will be back together in 2020.
Official World Ranking: 15
Patrick Reed has had a topsy-turvy season, but it would be almost criminal to not include the reigning Masters® champion on the list of the year's best. If anything, Reed's divisive personality was put into the spotlight in 2018, making his "love me or hate me" aura grow tenfold. However, we've been thoroughly entertained by golf's self-proclaimed "bad boy", and are eager to see how he'll fare in 2019.
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