Luke Donald held the No. 1 spot on the Official World Golf Rankings for 40 weeks.
Then 22-year-old Rory McIlroy took it away from the Englishman after his win last week on the PGA Tour at the Honda Classic.
Donald won four times worldwide in 2011—amazingly winning the money-list titles on both the European and PGA Tours—but was never accepted as the true No. 1 golfer in the world.
McIlroy turned professional and joined the European Tour in 2007 at age 17.
The Northern Irishman only has three European Tour wins, including his win at the 2011 U.S. Open by eight shots, but has amassed eight runner-up and 25 top-10 placings.
He has been runner-up on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai twice, in 2009 and 2011.
Rory accepted membership on the PGA Tour for 2012 and will play a minimum of 15 events in the U.S. His win at the Honda is his third official PGA Tour victory.
His fellow countryman, Ryder Cup teammate and good friend Graeme McDowell, has stated that Rory has the most talent of any golfer on any tour in the world right now.
Rory seems to be in contention every week and has finished top five in 11 of the last 12 events in which he has played.
McIlroy is one of the longer players in golf today and is surprisingly accurate with the driver.
He also is one of the best iron players on tour. Combine those with his superb putting game, and you see why he churns out low scores week after week.
A perceived weakness in his game is his short-game play around the greens.
He demonstrated a vastly improved chipping acumen at the WGC-Accenture, where his play from just off the greens carried him throughout the early matches into the finals against eventual winner Hunter Mahan.
After his win in Palm Beach, he jetted up to New York and played a little tennis in Madison Square Garden with Maria Sharapova, while also spending some time with his significant other, Caroline Wozniacki.
Can anyone fault him for shooting a first-round 73 at this week’s PGA stop the WGC-Cadillac at Doral?
The poor boy had to be exhausted.
With subsequent rounds of 69, 65 and 67, he posted a 14-under-par, two shots behind eventual winner Justin Rose. He pocketed another $500,000 for a third-place finish.
With Tiger Woods seeming to be steadily improving and becoming a factor again on tour, there has been great anticipation among golf fans of the competition between an aging Woods versus the youthful McIlroy for major titles and future world rankings—especially the upcoming Masters.
Tiger was in the mix on Sunday but was forced to withdraw with a recurring Achilles tendon problem.
After hitting his drive on the 12th tee, he was last seen riding a cart, getting into his car and leaving Doral.
A healthy Tiger Woods is the only golfer right now that can give McIlroy competition. Rory has to be the prohibitive favorite in every tournament that he enters.
Just like a younger Tiger Woods, even when Rory fails to perform at his best he is still in contention and finishes high up on the leaderboard.
He is a true No. 1 and will be for the foreseeable future.
The “Rory Era” has arrived.
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