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13 February 2020 20:54

PGA TOUR AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Choi Ho-sung

Rory aiming to be summit special and stay at No.1

But how to bet this event is the key because there are roughly one hundred of the best golfers in the world participating and that's a large field from which to choose. We can see that the number one golfer in the world, Rory McIlroy, is the favorite to wear the green jacket when the event is finished. However, it might surprise the casual golfing fan to know that McIlroy has won three of the four Grand Slam events but never the Masters. The most popular name in the sports itself, Tiger Woods, has won this event five times and is chasing the legendary Jack Nicklaus, who captured six Masters' titles over his career. You may recall that Brooks Koepka, who won four major championships in three years, had been the No. 1-ranked player in the world for the past 38 weeks until this week, when McIlroy overtook him by three hundredths of a point (9.19 to 9.16).

You may also recall these words from Koepka last fall, when he was asked about any sort of rivalry between him and McIlroy: "I'm not looking at anybody behind me. His 53-month gap set a new record for longest time between a player losing and regaining the No. 1 ranking. Koepka, on the strength of his 2017 and '18 U.S. Open victories as well as his 2018 and '19 PGA Championship titles, held the No. 1 ranking since winning the 2019 PGA last May at Bethpage Black. McIlroy has a win and four top-five finishes since September while Koepka has played just 12 competitive rounds in that span, slowed by a knee injury that has limited him to just four tournaments since the Tour Championship last fall. The way McIlroy overtook Koepka was a bit odd, because the shift took place while neither played last week.

But I've always said it's a byproduct of doing the right things week in, week out — playing well, shooting good scores, trying to win tournaments. "I've already had that euphoric moment in 2012 [when] I won the Honda Classic to get to No. 1 in the world,'' McIlroy said. Rory McIlroy was denied another "euphoric moment" in becoming World No.1 for the first time since September 2015 and admits he faces a tough task to stay at the summit. McIlroy and Brooks Koepka did not contest last week's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but McIlroy moved above the American due to the vagaries of the two-year rolling ranking system. Both are in action at this week's Genesis Invitational, where former US Open champion Webb Simpson is the only member of the world's top-10 not competing in a star-studded event hosted by Tiger Woods at Riviera Country Club.

This is McIlroy's 96th week in total as World No.1, one behind the record for a European player held by Sir Nick Faldo, although his lead over fellow four-time Major winner Koepka is just 0.03 points. "Everyone keeps saying congratulations but the work's only started, it's staying there is the hard part," McIlroy told a pre-tournament press conference. "It's a calculation based on how you've played the last two years and I've played consistently well, and the mathematics add up that I'm top of the list right now and I have a chance to stay there this week. "I've always said it's a by-product of doing the right things week in, week out, playing well, trying to win tournaments, and if I can continue to do that then hopefully that thing takes care of itself." Asked if it was something of an anti-climax to become No.1 during a week off, McIlroy added: "I've already that euphoric moment in 2012; I won the Honda Classic to get to No.1 in the world, Tiger was coming down the stretch, I was able to hold him off. – After more than 1,600 days, Rory McIlroy is again No. 1 in the world rankings.

It became official after last weekend's results, with McIlroy overtaking Brooks Koepka after a week in which neither one played. But McIlroy won three PGA TOUR events, including the TOUR Championship when he claimed his second FedExCup title (he moved from No. 3 to No. 2 behind Koepka after that week). "It's a calculation based on how you've played over the last two years," McIlroy said. The first time it happened was after winning the 2012 Honda Classic, as he held off Tiger Woods down the stretch. "Obviously I have a chance to stay there this week," McIlroy said, "but I've always said it's a by-product of doing the right things week in, week out – playing well, shooting good scores, trying to win tournaments.

While being considered the world's top-ranked golfer is nice, McIlroy said it's not specifically a goal he sets for himself. In golf, the rivalry between Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer went on for over 25 years and the 'Big Three' as they were refereed to, amassed 34 major titles between them in that time. Through the years, the Tiger Woods vs Phil Michelson rivalry has continued to create a buzz, however, on paper the two players are two worlds apart. The Jordan Spieth vs Justin Thomas rivalry faded away with the decline of Spieth's game and the Rory McIlroy vs Brooks Koepka rivalry is just getting started. "I have been out here for five years and Rory hasn't won a major since," he said. "I am Number one in the world and I have got open road in front of me, I don't see it as rivalry." But that was in October 2019 – today, McIlroy is the new World Number One. Back in October 2019, McIlroy said Koepka was right, they were not rivals. "Koepka has been the best player in the world the last couple of years – winning four majors.