Tuesday, 05 August 2014
Any of the world's top five could leave Kentucky as the best in the game  (Getty Images)
Any of the world's top five could leave Kentucky as the best in the game (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy may have only just returned to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time since March last year, but there is no time for him to rest on his laurels, with any player in the top five on the list able to leave the US PGA Championship as number one.

This is the 40th week that the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational winner has spent as top dog, but there are plenty of permutations come the end of four rounds at Valhalla that could see him dethroned from his fifth spell at the head of the sport.

Second placed man Adam Scott had spent the previous 11 weeks in first, on a list that tracks points awarded to performances across a two year period, but he could regain that position with a win this week.

If the Australian were to claim his second Major title in Louisville, Kentucky then McIlroy could do nothing to stop the 2012 Masters Tournament winner regaining his number one ranking.

As for the man who has posted runner-up finishes in his previous two starts, at both the Open Championship and last week in Akron, he also has a chance of topping the globe for the first time in his career.

If it had not been for a certain Ulsterman then Sergio Garcia would be the form player in golf right now, and if he were to win and McIlroy finish outside the top five, with Scott not in the leading four places too, then the Spaniard would ascend to number one.

Just 12 months ago Henrik Stenson was also in the midst of one of the finest runs of form in his career, en route to posting a third place finish at Oak Hill. He has been as high as second in the World list, but if he were to win this week and McIlroy was to come outside of the top 14 and Scott outside the first nine, then the Swede would jump to the summit.

As for Justin Rose, currently fifth, his chances are perhaps a little longer. He too has been in the form of his life lately, registering victories either side of the Atlantic, but last year’s US Open Champion needs to hope for a miracle if he is to become the fourth Englishman to go top of the world.

For that to happen, McIlroy would need to finish lower than 56th spot, while Scott would need to be outside the highest 17 players. To put that in perspective, the Northern Irishman has won in his previous two starts, and has four top eight finishes in the US PGA from just five appearances.

In that time he has won – in emphatic style to boot – at Kiawah Island in 2012, so it would be a brave person who thought he would fail to make the top 56 in his current form.

As for Scott, few have performed with his consistency of late in the four biggest Championships, where the Australian has registered nine top ten finishes in his previous 16 Major starts.

He is also the only man teeing it up this week who could overtake McIlroy with less than victory, needing a mere top 20 finish if the current incumbent were to miss the cut and the other candidates fail to win.

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