PGA: Top 10 Golfers of the Decade
PGA: Top 10 Golfers of the Decade

10 - Phil Mickelson (Wins - 7, Majors - 2)

Mickelson was 39 years old when the ball fell on New Year's Eve in 2010, and it's unlikely many foresaw him being a top-10 golfer in the next decade. Well, here were are. Phil won the first major of the 2010s at the Masters and picked up his second at the Open Championship in 2013. He also accumulated nine top-10s in major events, including a third and four seconds. His play slowly started to fall off and become more inconsistent as the years progressed, but he did manage to secure victories at the WGC: Mexico Championship in 2018 and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am this past February. When it's all said and done Lefty will have three separate Top-10-worthy decades in his career.

9 - Justin Rose (Wins - 10, Majors - 1)

Rose was just 17 when he burst onto the scene as an amateur with a T4 finish at the 1998 Open Championship, but he failed to really live up to the hype as he struggled through his 20s. However, he found a groove later in his career by securing his first win at the Memorial Tournament in 2010 and going on to win nine more events, including the U.S. Open in 2013. Two of his other big accomplishments were earning the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics and winning the 2018 FedEx Cup. He also spent the third-most weeks inside the Top 30 of the FedExCup Standings this decade. 

8 - Bubba Watson (Wins - 12, Majors - 2)

Watson's wins and majors alone could seemingly have him higher on this list, but he has never had the  dominant stretches as those ahead of him. Still, only two golfers recorded more wins and only three have more majors. The lefty gained something of a cult following early on thanks to his pink driver shaft and big swing, but multiple green jackets certainly confirmed his status as a top-tier player. He has won three Travelers Championships at TPC River Highlands, as well as three tournaments hosted at Riviera Country Club. He dominates at those courses, Augusta National Golf Club, as well as a few others, but his inability to find the same success elsewhere is notable. He simply knows his game and has been one of the most creative golfers on Tour since his arrival. 

7 - Justin Thomas (Wins - 11, Majors - 1)

Thomas has the second-most wins on Tour since making his debut in the 2014-15 season. He picked up his first at the CIMB Classic in 2015 and then successfully defended it the following season. He went on to win nine more times in the latter half of the decade. Five of those victories came in 2017, including the PGA Championship, which unsurprisingly led to his first and only FedEx Cup. He also provided some memorable moments that included an opening round 59 at the 2017 Sony Open in Hawaii and this gem at the 2018 WGC-Mexico that ultimately earned him a playoff spot against Phil Mickelson.

Thomas will turn 27 in April and is seemingly heading into the 2020s with his best years ahead of him. There's no doubt he could top the list next time this article is written.

6 - Jason Day (Wins - 12, Majors - 1) 

Day slightly edges out Thomas thanks to a full decade of work. He burst onto the scene in 2010 with a victory at the HP Byron Nelson Championship and then grinded it out until notching a victory at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in 2014. From there, the Australian reeled off eight wins in a 16-month span – and actually seven victories in a 17-start span. One of those was a victory at the 2015 PGA Championship. Aside from his one major victory, he also recorded an impressive 15 Top-10s, including one third and four seconds, in those events.

5 - Tiger Woods (Wins - 11, Majors - 1)

The unequivocal best golfer of the century, and perhaps ever, Tiger would no doubt be higher on this list if it were not for some off-the-course drama and nagging, serious back issues. His decade got off to a rough start, but he worked his way back to No. 1 in the world in 2013 by winning eight times in a two year span. From there, he underwent multiple surgeries on his back and suffered enough setbacks to convince a majority of the public he would never return. Well, the joke was on them, because Tiger not only returned in 2018, he went on a momentous run that culminated with this moment at the 2019 Masters no one will soon forget:

Tiger then closed out 2019 by captaining, and arguably being the best player, on Team USA in their comeback victory at the Presidents Cup. Lastly, and unsurprisingly – always guess Tiger in golf trivia! – he led the Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach for the decade.

4 - Brooks Koepka (Wins 7, Majors - 4)

It took three wins on the Challenge Tour for Koepka to qualify for the Open Championship in 2013, and it is certainly appropriate his first PGA appearance was a major. In fact, he lands this high on the list mainly due to his performance at majors and big events. Koepka earned his Tour card for the 2014-15 season by finishing T4 at the 2014 U.S. Open. His first win came at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2015, so he essentially did all of his damage in the latter portion of the decade. Starting in 2014 he went on an eye-popping run in majors that included four victories, two seconds and a remarkable 12 total Top-10s over 21 major championship appearances. His bravado and disdain for slow play, or those who complain about course conditions, have made him somewhat of a polarizing figure on Tour, but also a golfer everyone tunes in to see at big events. 

3 - Jordan Spieth (Wins - 11, Majors - 3) 

Spieth did not play in his first PGA event until 2013 and is currently enduring a 2 ½-year winless drought, but the meat of his sandwich this decade is something else. He notched his first win at the John Deere Classic in 2013 and then had an historic stretch between March of 2015 and July of 2017 that included ten wins and three majors. A PGA Championship is the only thing keeping him from a career Grand Slam at the moment. His 2014-15 season was the most impressive of any golfer in this timeframe, as he posted 15 top-10s in 25 starts, including two fourths, a third, four runner-ups and five wins. Two of those victories came at the Masters and U.S. Open, and he also took home the TOUR Championship en route to winning the FedEx Cup. It should also be noted he notched one of the more memorable moments of the last 10 years when he sunk a sand shot from a greenside bunker to win the 2017 Travelers Championship.

2 - Dustin Johnson (Wins - 18, Majors - 1)

A lack of major victories is basically the only difference between Johnson and the No. 1 golfer on our list. That does not mean he was not successful in those events, as he logged four seconds, one third and 16 top-10s to go along with his U.S. Open victory in 2016. A model of consistency, he won at least once every season this decade, and was the only golfer to reach the TOUR Championship all 10 times. The 35-year-old has also recorded four multi-win seasons and has spent the most weeks (323) inside the Top-30 of the FedEx Cup standings. His hottest streak came during a three-event stretch in 2017 when he won the Genesis Open, WGC-Mexico and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in succession. He is also responsible for the longest drive on Tour thanks to a 463-yard bomb at the 2011 Dell Technologies Championship. Aside from a few stinging losses that make us wonder what could have been, the 2010s were very kind to DJ. 

1 - Rory McIlroy (Wins - 18, Majors - 4)

At just 20 years old McIlroy picked up his first PGA victory in May of 2010 at the Quail Hollow Championship thanks to a final-round 62. From there, he reeled off 17 more wins, including two PGAs, one U.S. Open and an Open Championship. While he has not won a major since 2014, he has logged ten Top-10 finishes in major championships since. A Masters green jacket is the only major prize that has eluded him. When Rory was at his best nobody really stood a chance, as evidenced by his two major victories won by eight or more strokes, a feat only he and Tiger have accomplished. The Northern Irishman is the only golfer to win the FedEx Cup twice this decade, and his five multi-win seasons are also unparalleled. Statistically, he led the Tour in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee with an average of 1.008 as well as Strokes Gained: Total at 1.670. Simply put, the 2010s were the decade of Rory, and at just 30 years old, the 2020s could be his as well.

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Eric Neuman
Eric Neuman makes words into sentences for RotoWire, and turns sentences into verses in the music world. He would cheer for Notre Dame to beat Wisconsin in a bowl game, but not in the Final Four.
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