Rory McIlroy has regained top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings from Luke Donald.
Despite not actually playing last week himself, the Northern Irishman returns to World Number One just four weeks after being usurped by his Ryder Cup team mate, as Donald finished the RBC Heritage in South Carolina in a tie for 37th place on two over par.
The Englishman, who closed with a second successive level par 71, needed to finish in the top eight at Harbour Town to retain top spot. Donald lost a play-off to Brandt Snedeker at the same venue last year, but he was never in contention this time around following an opening round 75.
McIlroy’s consistency over the last four months has been rewarded again during what has become a tight battle at the top of the world ranking.
The 22 year old spent a maiden two week stint at the pinnacle of golf following victory in the US PGA Tour’s Honda Classic in early March, thus ending Luke Donald’s 40 week reign as World Number One.
That Ulsterman’s triumph capped a remarkable six months during which he finished in the top five nine times on The European Tour, claiming his third European Tour title at the 2011 UBS Hong Kong Open in December before a runner-up finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship the following month.
McIlroy’s success at the Honda Classic was sandwiched between another runner-up finish at the first World Golf Championship of the year – the Accenture Match Play Championship in February – and a third place finish two weeks later at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Florida.
And regardless of what was an uncharacteristically inconsistent week at the Masters Tournament, in which McIlroy finished tied 40th at Augusta after a weekend featuring rounds of 77 and 76, and not playing last week, he returns to the top spot due to the points lost by Donald in the United States.
Neither McIlroy nor Donald will compete at this week’s Volvo China Open or Valero Texas Open on the US PGA Tour, but it is the younger man who remains in the ascendency having accrued more ranking points in recent times - 174.3 in 2012 compared to Donald’s 82.1 – while the Englishman has lost 130.5 this year compared to McIlroy’s 92.8.