European golf is back on top of the world after Rory McIlroy picked up his maiden World Golf Championship title at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to return to World Number One as the continent continues to occupy four of the top five spots in the game.
Overnight leader Sergio Garcia might not have taken advantage of his position at the top of the leaderboard heading into Sunday’s final round at Firestone Country Club, but his second place behind the Northern Irishman saw him replace Justin Rose as the game’s third best player.
The Englishman finished in a tie for fourth in Akron, Ohio as he continued his top form, but that did not stop him from dropping to fifth on the Rankings. While Henrik Stenson was solid, if unspectacular in a share of 19th spot this past week, a result that sees him fall one spot to fourth in the latest list.
As for McIlroy, he returns to World Number One for the first time since March last year, and while he was very pleased to win his second title in as many starts – following his Open Championship victory at Royal Liverpool last month – he has learned lessons from his previous spells at the top of the game that he will put into practice this time around.
As for his standing in the sport, the 25 year old admits to thinking that it was time for someone to stand up and be counted, and after his latest results he fancies himself as the man to do just that.
“I did say at the start of the year that golf was looking for a guy to become the dominant player and I have kind of put my hand up in the last few weeks by winning a couple of huge events,” said the Ulsterman. “I just need to keep it going and try to keep winning to maintain that.
“The key is to not think about it too much, and to not feel like you're defending every week or defending it all the time, to just to go out and play. It's a nice honour, and it's a nice title to have, but I don't think you should go into tournaments thinking about it or thinking about whether this guy could pass me if I don't finish in this position.
“I think you just go and play and try to win golf tournaments, and if you win golf tournaments, the Ranking takes care of itself.
“My goal now until the end of the year is just to try to win as many golf tournaments as I can. It's not to try to finish number one in the world, it's just to get as many titles as possible.”
Adam Scott had occupied the top spot since mid-May, and has been in the kind of form befitting the best player in the game since winning on the PGA Tour at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, as well as registering top eight finishes in his four starts since that triumph.
The Australian clearly revelled in his time at the summit, but he will be out to reclaim his top spot at the US PGA Championship, with plenty of points up for grabs in the year’s final Major.
“It's all good, it's been a lot of fun,” said the 2013 Masters Tournament winner. “Obviously Rory's in incredible form at the moment, and he'll be the man to beat next week. I'll be gunning for him for at Valhalla for sure.”