The hottest golfer in the world right now? Hideki Matsuyama

Hideki Matsuyama

The hottest golfer in the world right now? Hideki Matsuyama

PGA Tour

The hottest golfer in the world right now? Hideki Matsuyama

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Hideki Matsuyama is currently playing golf better than anyone in the world.

That doesn’t mean he’s now the best golfer in the world – impossible to say that with heavyweights Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and many others playing limited schedules – but it would be foolish to bet against him right now no matter who’s in the field.

The 24-year-old from Japan won the Hero World Challenge Sunday and outclassed the elite 17-man field for most of the week. That’s four wins in his last five starts:

Oct. 16: 1st, Japan Open, (-5)

Oct. 23: 2nd, CIMB Classic, (-20)

Oct. 30: 1st, World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions (-23)

Nov. 13: 1st, Taiheiyo Masters (-23)

Dec. 4: 1st, Hero World Challenge (-18)

That’s a total of 89-under par in five starts and one heck of a two-month resume. Matsuyama was ranked 18th in the world entering the Japan Open and now sits 6th behind only Day, McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Jordan Spieth.

That means he is now the highest-ranked player without a major and the question of whether or not he will win one this year is suddenly at the top of the discussion list.

Matsuyama missed the cut at the 2016 U.S. and British Opens, but finished T-7 at the Masters and T-4 at the PGA Championship.

The sample size for Matsuyma’s hot streak is limited, but it got us thinking about the best hot streaks in golf over the past several years.

Jason Day

July-Sept., 2015: The current world No. 1 was in peak form last fall during a tear which produced his first and only major and catapulted his career to the highest level. Day won four of six events, beginning with the RBC Canadian Open at 17 under. He was victorious in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straights two weeks later and also won the Barclays and BMW Championship with a pair of T-12s mixed in at the Bridgestone Invitational and the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Jordan Spieth

March-July, 2015: Spieth’s play throughout the summer of 2015 drummed up the whole ‘Next Tiger Woods?’ debate (tired and pointless as that debate may be) when he won the Masters at age 21. He had a win and two second-place finishes in three events leading up to the Masters, won the U.S. Open in June and followed that up with a win at the John Deere and a T-4 at the British Open.

Tiger Woods

Jan.-May, 2013: It’s easy to forget that Tiger was in dominant form less than four years ago. But dominant he was to start the ’13 season, setting the table for five victories and PGA Player of the Year honors. It began with a win at the Farmers Insurance Open in January and continued with back-to-back wins at the Cadillac Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational. Woods finished T-4 at the Masters and won the Players Championship in May in what is still his most notable victory since the last major win in 2008.

Rory McIlroy

Aug.-Sep. 2012: McIlroy won three of four to finish the summer of 2012 with a bang. He annihilated the field at the PGA Championship, winning by eight shots at 13 under after a final-round 66 at Kiawah Island. Three weeks later he won back-to-back FedEx Cup Playoffs events at the Deutsche Bank and BMW Championships.

July-Aug. 2014: Short but sweet – McIlroy won three times in three weeks, two of them majors, in what became ‘The Summer of Rory.’ He held off Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia to win the British Open at 17 under, won the Bridgestone Invitational by two shots and capped the trifecta with a one-shot win at the PGA Championship after an extremely entertaining duel with Phil Mickelson.

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