Rory McIlroy is the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world.
He has a chance to hold on to that top spot for the foreseeable future.
McIlroy has won major titles each of the last two years and he seems to thrive in pressure situations and when the rest of the golf world is focusing in on him.
McIlroy clearly has plenty of talent, but it's not just his ball-striking ability that will keep him on top. He's got the intangible factors that will make him one of the prominent golfers on the tour for many years—and may even keep him as the golf world's best player.
Rory McIlroy can hit the ball long off the tee.
This is a vital factor because it sends the message that you are not going to out drive him if you play against him.
McIlroy ranked fifth on the tour in 2012 with an average of 310.1 yards per drive.
This helps build his confidence. While nearly all touring pros can hit the ball a long way, when you can out drive 95 percent of your competitors you are going to feel good about your ability to play the game.
If you are competing against McIlroy when he launches one off the first tee and he out drives you by 25 yards, you know it is going to be a long day.
Rory McIlroy has a beautiful swing and a balanced putting stroke.
These characteristics give him a chance to remain in contention for tournament championships most weekends he competes.
He's not always going to be playing at the top of his game, but McIlroy knows how to keep his game together and take advantage of his opportunities to make birdies.
McIlroy proved this by leading the tour in birdies per round with 4.20 in 2012.
The best golfers in the world know how to control their games and their scores even when they are not having their best day on the course.
Nobody does this better than McIlroy. He was the leading golfer on the PGA tour this season in scoring average.
Rory McIlroy is the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world, and he wears that title well.
He confidently swaggers around the course.
Another player who had ridden a hot streak to the No. 1 ranking might secretly believe he's just holding the position for a short time until a more prominent golfer asserts himself.
Not McIlroy. He plays the game as if he knows he's the best. There's no apologizing with his swing, his strut or his putting stroke.
He doesn't brag or gloat, but he's not about to shy away from his ranking.
No matter what event Rory McIlroy is playing in, he seems up for the event.
Especially the big events.
He wants to take on the best golfers in the world in the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA, and he wants his opponents to be at their best.
He doesn't want any of his competitors to have any problems that would give them excuses. He wants to be the best and he wants to beat the best players in the world.
That's one of the great challenges of a championship-level player. Anyone can win when opponents are slumping or have a poor final round. But when you can beat your competition when they are playing at their best, you have a chance to call yourself the No. 1 golfer in the world.
That's McIlroy at this point in his career.
Tiger Woods had an excellent golf season in 2012.
While Rory McIlroy was the top money winner on the tour, Woods was No. 2. McIlroy won four tournaments, while Woods won three.
However, Woods had not won a major tournament since the 2008 season and he has struggled to play consistently in the most important tournaments.
McIlroy flourished in the recently completed Ryder Cup, while Woods struggled and did not play at the Medinah Country Club in suburban Chicago with confidence.
Until Woods gets back to his best form in the major events, it's difficult to see anyone else challenging McIlroy for the No. 1 ranking.