It took Rory McIlroy 4 and a half years to get again his No. 1 standing on the planet. It may take solely every week to lose it once more at this week’s Tiger Woods-hosted conference of golf superpowers in California.
After reclaiming the No. 1 rating on Monday in a arithmetic switch after all of the precept gamers took final week off, the highest spot is on the road on the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles. McIlroy, unseated Brooks Koepka, and red-hot No. three Jon Rahm every have an opportunity to put official declare to being referred to as “the perfect golfer on the planet” with robust finishes in an elite gathering at Riviera Nation Membership. The PGA Tour subject consists of 9 of the highest 10 and 19 of the highest 25 ranked gamers within the Official World Golf Rankings.
“Everybody retains saying congratulations however the work’s solely began,” McIlroy mentioned Wednesday. “Staying there may be the arduous half. It’s a calculation primarily based on the way you’ve performed during the last two years, and I’ve performed constantly properly and the arithmetic provides up that I’m on prime of the listing proper now.”
Koepka may retake the No. 1 spot he’d held for 38 consecutive weeks if he finishes in a two-way tie for seventh or higher. Rahm can attain the highest rating for the primary time by profitable or ending in not more than a two-way tie for second.
There are eight former world No. 1 gamers on this week’s subject. And whereas the intrigue of seeing the perfect gamers competing on the similar time on an traditional venue makes a fascinating script for golf followers, the three guys vying for the highest billing don’t appear to care a whit about how the OWGR math falls out from week to week.
“I’ve already had that euphoric second in 2012,” McIlroy mentioned of the primary time he reached No. 1. “I received the Honda Basic to get to No. 1 on the planet, Tiger was coming down the stretch and I used to be capable of maintain him off. That to me was the actually cool second and no less than I’ve had certainly one of them. So long as you do have that have, particularly the primary time you get there, that’s all you want.”
“It does not matter to me,” Koepka mentioned in Abu Dhabi concerning the rating, which he considers a secondary profit to profitable majors. “Yeah, it is good to be world No. 1. … However the one factor I am trying ahead to is the prep main as much as (the Masters). Am I enjoying good, am I trending in the suitable course going to Augusta.”
Stated Rahm when introduced with the chance for the primary time two weeks in the past in Phoenix: “Being No. 1 on the planet, it is a consequence of excellent golf. I would not be doing this if my aim wasn’t to be the perfect. It is so simple as that. I tee it as much as win each time, I observe to be the perfect I may be, and hopefully the perfect I may be takes me to No. 1 in some unspecified time in the future.”
McIlroy and Koepka have unwittingly developed into golf’s most attention-grabbing rivalry although they don’t contemplate it to be such. In October, Koepka dismissed the rivalry chatter with a mic-drop quote: “I have been out right here for, what, 5 years? Rory hasn’t received a significant since I have been on the PGA Tour.”
McIlroy — who has received 12 instances together with a Gamers Championship in these 5 years — politely responded: “What Brooks mentioned wasn’t mistaken. I don’t suppose he needed to remind me that I haven’t received one shortly.”
Wednesday, McIlroy mentioned the relative smack discuss “feels prefer it’s been a one-way.” The 2 haven’t performed in the identical occasion because the Tour Championship at East Lake, the place McIlroy received the FedEx Cup and secured the peer vote because the PGA Tour’s Participant of the Yr regardless of Koepka’s exemplary main performances. McIlroy has performed constantly wonderful golf since lacking the lower on the final main at Royal Portrush, whereas Koepka spent three months off nursing and injured knee.
“I preserve saying golf is not concerning the different individuals, golf is about your self and golf’s about getting the perfect out of what you may have,” McIlroy mentioned. “Should you preserve doing that and you retain that mindset, all the pieces else will fall into place.”
However whereas their simmering rivalry has obtained many of the consideration, the 25-year-old Rahm has thrown his hat into the ring.
Rahm can grow to be solely the second Spanish golfer to succeed in No. 1 on the planet and the primary since Seve Ballesteros final held the highest rank for 20 straight weeks from April to August in 1989.
Rahm has performed arguably essentially the most constantly nice golf on the planet since final summer time when he completed third within the US Open. In that span he’s received thrice together with the Dubai Responsibility Free Irish Open and the Race to Dubai crown on the DP World Tour Championship. He’s additionally completed runner-up 4 instances together with the BMW PGA Championship and three weeks in the past within the Farmers Insurance coverage Open at Torrey Pines. He’s solely completed worse than 13th in certainly one of his final 16 begins with 13 top-10 finishes.
Does he contemplate himself the perfect participant on the planet in the intervening time?
“I feel all of us attempt to present as much as a golf match considering we are the higher participant that week and we are able to do it and it is only a matter of displaying it,” Rahm mentioned final month, admitting that whereas he’s performed higher golf in his profession he’s presently “enjoying a little bit bit smarter possibly.”
McIlroy completed fifth at Riviera final 12 months amongst a plethora of top-10 finishes all over the world. So whereas profitable each week is the aim, constantly contending is the plan.
“Should you can undergo the majority of the 12 months and solely a handful of fellows are beating you most weeks, if that is your kind of common week, then you definately’re doing the suitable issues,” McIlroy mentioned. “I at all times really feel in golf and profitable there’s fairly a randomness to it. Some weeks you get the suitable bounces, some weeks you do not, however on the finish of the 12 months all of it kind of evens out. My top-10 price is one thing I am happy with and one thing that I wish to preserve going.”
Koepka, who has received as many majors (4) as non-majors on the PGA and European excursions mixed, has made it abundantly clear the place his priorities lie.
“I feel we all know all 4 tournaments that I am trying ahead to,” he mentioned in January. “You are remembered by your majors. That is the place my focus is, attempting to play properly there.” That mentioned, being thought-about “the perfect” by no matter commonplace of measurement means one thing to him.
“Should you do not suppose you are the perfect participant, what is the level?” he mentioned. “All people comes right here attempting to win. That is the aim. Should you do not imagine you are the perfect deep down, then there’s one thing mistaken with you. You may as properly give up.”