Sep 11th, 2018
Can you name the UK's 5 World Number one golfers?
Here's the list of champions
Words: Tim Southwell Photography: Darren Arthur (Cover shot)
Justin Rose has just become World No1. But can you name the other four British golfers to have achieved the same status?
1) Nick Faldo (97 weeks)
Tied with Rory is Sir Nicholas of Faldo who slugged it out with Greg Norman and Seve for the top dog title in the mid to late 1980s. Faldo finally made it to the top courtesy in no small part to his two major victories in 1990.
Sharky wrestled top spot back just six weeks later before Faldo again overtook the Aussie the following February. Then what happens? Ian Woosnam wins the Masters and he becomes world number one. Halcyon days for the European Tour indeed.
Top spot swapped a lot more back then and Faldo was back at the summit – albeit for one week only! – in March 1992 before Freddy Couples said "thank you ma'am" and was himself number one.
It was the last time for a while that anyone would genuinely challenge Faldo as he won the Open to return to the top, a position he stayed at for a whopping 81 weeks.
Who eventually replaced him? Greg Norman of course
2) Rory McIlroy (95 weeks)
Rory took over from Luke Donald as world number one in 2012, but he couldn't overtake Faldo as the UK's longest serving top dog, falling two-weeks short.
Rory and Luke Donald went head to head for the title throughout 2012 before Rors stamped his tenure on the spot with a 32-week reign following his record-breaking PGA Championship win at Kiawah Island. Then Tiger comes back from injury and what do you know, Tiger bags five PGA Tour wins and embarked on another impressive streak (60 weeks) at golf's summit.
Rory returned to number one in 2013 following his win at the BMW PGA Championship. Then he won The Open and the PGA Championship to set off on another run at the top (his fifth) which lasted 54 weeks until he was usurped by Jordan Spieth, with whom Rory regularly swapped places as world number one before Rory had – to date – one last week at the top September 2015.
3) Luke Donald (56 weeks)
He may be sitting at a rather ugly 373rd in the world right now but Luke Donald won the 2011 PGA Tour and European Tour Money Lists in the same season. The first man to achieve this feat, it also preceded a playoff victory over Westwood at the BMW PGA Championship which saw him leapfrog Westwood to the top spot.
4) Ian Woosnam (50 weeks)
As mentioned earlier, Woosie became world number one at the expense of Nick Faldo when he won the Masters in 1991.
His 50-week reign of terror, sorry, supremacy was ended by Freddy Couples in March 1992.
5) Lee Westwood (22 weeks)
Lee Westwood became world number one in October 2010 and was the first player to achieve this without a major title under his belt, a statistic that was emulated by Luke Donald.
Tiger had been at the top for something like 15 years (Actually it was 281 weeks! – Ed) before Westy replaced him courtesy of a 2nd place finish at the WGC-HSBC Champions. It was the first of two stints at the top for Westy.
6) Justin Rose (3 days... so far...)
At 38, Rose is the third oldest player to reach the top spot, behind only Vijay Singh and Tom Lehman. Rosey replaces Dustin Johnson who was number one for 13 weeks after taking over from Justin Thomas in May 2018, though DJ has been No1 for a total of 77 weeks in different spells.
“Becoming No 1 was a boyhood dream, and fulfilling that goal is the culmination of some great golf over the past year or two," said Rosey. "When you look at the names of the previous numbers ones, I’m in pretty scary company.”