British pair have eyes on Rory McIlroy’s top spotDORAL, Florida - Rory McIlroy only grabbed the top spot in the world golf rankings on Sunday, but he faces a direct challenge this week from the two men who could limit his reign to just seven days.
The Northern Irishman is grouped with world number two Luke Donald and number three Lee Westwood in the first two rounds of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at the Blue Monster course.
Donald was world number one for 40 weeks until McIlroy overtook him with a victory at the Honda Classic on Sunday, while Westwood held the top spot prior to Donald’s ascent.
Both could return to the top spot with a win at Doral.
While players typically play down the importance of rankings, insisting that their focus is purely on winning tournaments, their grouping is bound to be closely followed.
“I think it adds a little bit of interest. I’m not sure that the players are quite as concerned with it as maybe you guys [the media] or the fans, at least,” said Donald.
“But anything that adds to a tournament where the broadcasters can talk about it and add to an event, I think it’s probably a good thing.
“There obviously is some jockeying for position. There isn’t one stand-out player right now. That certainly is what the world rankings would say.
“When Tiger was number one, no one really talked about the world rankings much, and maybe the big talking point was who was in the top 50, not who was number one.
“It obviously changes with the time. As a player, I try not to get too wrapped up in it,” he said.
Westwood chose a characteristically lighthearted approach when asked how tough it was to be top dog.
“There’s nothing hard about being number one in the world, no. If you don’t enjoy that, then you need to take up another sport,” he said.
“Me and Luke were talking about it on the putting green today. I said, ‘Oh, morning, number two,’ and he looked at me and nodded and said, ‘Yeah, it’s sort of a bit of a relief.’”
McIlroy said he wasn’t feeling any particular pressure now that he is on top.
“It depends what type of mind you have and if you thrive in the spotlight or if you welcome it. I feel like I do thrive in the spotlight, and I like the attention.
“I’d love to keep myself here for a while. But I know that it’s inevitable that I’ll lose it at some point. That’s for sure. I just hope that it’s a little further away.
“But that’s not what I play golf for. It’s not to keep the number one ranking. It’s about winning tournaments, and if I win tournaments, the ranking will take care of itself.” Reuters