McIlroy eager to maintain his status as world number one

Irishman among the star-studded line-up set to feature in Genesis Invitational at Riviera

Rory McIlroy plays a shot from the eighth tee at Riveriera where a special marker is being used remembering Kobe Bryant. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty

Rory McIlroy plays a shot from the eighth tee at Riveriera where a special marker is being used remembering Kobe Bryant. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty

 

Rory McIlroy was denied another “euphoric moment” in becoming world number one for the first time since September 2015 and admits he faces a tough task to stay at the summit.

McIlroy and Brooks Koepka did not contest last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but McIlroy moved above the American due to the vagaries of the two-year rolling ranking system.

Both are in action at this week’s Genesis Invitational – where former US Open champion Webb Simpson is the only member of the world’s top 10 not competing – in a star-studded event hosted by Tiger Woods at Riviera.

This is McIlroy’s 96th week in total as world number one, one behind the record for a European player held by Sir Nick Faldo, although his lead over fellow four-time major winner Koepka is just 0.03 points.

Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 10th hole during the Genesis Invitational pro-am at Riviera. Photograph: Ryan Kang/AP
Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 10th hole during the Genesis Invitational pro-am at Riviera. Photograph: Ryan Kang/AP

“Everyone keeps saying congratulations but the work’s only started, it’s staying there is the hard part,” McIlroy told a pre-tournament press conference.

“It’s a calculation based on how you’ve played the last two years and I’ve played consistently well and the mathematics add up that I’m top of the list right now and I have a chance to stay there this week.

“I’ve always said it’s a by-product of doing the right things week in, week out, playing well, trying to win tournaments and if I can continue to do that then hopefully that thing takes care of itself.”

Asked if it was something of an anti-climax to become number one during a week off, McIlroy added: “I’ve already that euphoric moment in 2012; I won the Honda Classic to get to number one in the world, Tiger was coming down the stretch, I was able to hold him off. That to me was the really cool moment.

“At least I’ve had one of them, that’s nice. To me it doesn’t matter if I was sitting at home on the couch and got there or whatever, it is what it is.

“So I’ve already had that experience and I think as long as you do get that experience, especially the first time you get there, that’s all you need.”

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