Rory McIlroy has been named The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month for March after reaching the Number One spot on the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time following his victory in the Honda Classic in the United States.
The Northern Irishman had just missed out on becoming World Number One after losing to Hunter Mahan in the final of the WGC – Accenture Match Play, but he only had to wait seven days to overtake Luke Donald at the world’s summit, holding off the challenge of Tom Gillis and the charging Tiger Woods by two shots at PGA National Resort and Spa for his third victory on American soil.
In doing so, McIlroy, at 22 years and 305 days, became the second youngest player after Woods to hold the World Number One spot.
The US Open Champion, who will attempt to win his second Major Championship at this week’s Masters Tournament, then capped a memorable month by finishing third in his first event as the leading player on the planet, the WGC – Cadillac Championship.
Those two performances meant that McIlroy was namedThe Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month award for the fourth time in his career, winning the vote by the narrowest of margins from Englishman Justin Rose in what the panel comprising golf media said was one of the most closely contested monthly award to date.
Rose was highly commended by the panel for his first World Golf Championships title in the WGC – Cadillac Championship, while the achievement of his compatriot Donald in regaining the World Number One spot from McIlroy with victory in the Transitions Championship was also praised by the panel.
McIlroy said: “It’s always nice to receive these plaudits and honours. There were a couple of guys in with a great chance last month – Luke winning the Transitions to go back to World Number One and Justin playing great at Doral to win. So it’s nice to come out on top of those two and win the Golfer of the Month award.”
Panel Member Iain Carter, BBC Five Live’s Golf Correspondent, said: “This was one of the very toughest Golfer of the Month decision we have had to make, but Rory reaching World Number One with a fine performance in Florida, where he held off a resurgent Tiger Woods, just gave him the edge ahead of Justin Rose and Luke Donald.”
The panel also commended the performances of Frenchman Julien Quesne, who claimed in maiden European Tour title in the Open de Andalucía Costa del Sol to become the 400th different European Tour winner; Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey who captured his fourth European Tour victory in the Trophée Hassan II and Dane Thorbjørn Olesen, who claimed his own maiden title in the Sicilian Open.
McIlroy follows South African Branden Grace (January) and Paul Lawrie (February) as monthly winners so far in 2012. All three players will join the subsequent award recipients who will be considered for The 2012 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year, which was won last year by Donald.
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