Rory McIlroy will head into the New Year a monumental 4.6 points clear of second-placed Luke Donald after the 2012 end-of-year Official World Golf Rankings were announced.
The 23-year-old Northern Irishman started the year in third but took the mantle of World No.1 for the first time in his career with a two-shot victory at the Honda Classic in early March.
McIlroy then exchanged the top spot with Donald on several occasions when missing three consecutive cuts following a runner-up finish to Rickie Fowler at the Wells Fargo Championship in May.
But the Ulsterman quickly made the season his own when landing his second career major title with a record eight-shot victory at the PGA Championship - a win that opened the floodgates to further success at the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship on the PGA Tour.
And he then capped the season off manfully by winning the European Tour's season-ending Dubai World Championship.
McIlroy, who emulated the feat of Donald by winning both money lists this season shortly before receiving the PGA Tour Player of the Year accolade last month, was this week named European Tour Golfer of the Year.
“Everyone who knows me knows how special the 2012 season was,” said McIlroy.
“A couple of wins, including a major and consistent performances in big events all helped me win the Race to Dubai for the first time. To win that was a massive highlight of an amazing season and I hope it will be the first of many.
“Now I have been named European Tour Golfer of the Year puts the icing on the cake.”
It might not have been the major season Tiger Woods was anticipating but he did at least improve his rankings position by 20 places up to World No.3 following a hat-trick of wins on the PGA Tour.
Other big movers included Justin Rose, who vaulted 14 places to a career-high fourth, Jason Dufner, who bumped up 24 places to World No.9 following his two victories on the PGA Tour, and Louis Oosthuizen, who stormed to World No.6 from 39th.
And while it was a slow start to the year for an injury-plagued Charl Schwartzel, who started the year as World No.9, the red-hot South African rallied from falling outside the top-30 four weeks ago to a current 14th following back-to-back wins.
Of those currently in the top-10, Lee Westwood, who won the Nordea Masters on the European Tour and Indonesian Masters on the Asian Tour, will feel the most aggrieved after slipping back from second to seventh.
Phil Mickelson, who has ended the last three years at World No.2, 4 and 14 respectively, is down to 17 - the American's lowest season-ending ranking since his third year on Tour in 1995.
Year-ending World Top 20
1 Rory McIlroy (NI) 13.22 ave. points
2 Luke Donald (Eng) 8.62
3 Tiger Woods (US) 8.53
4 Justin Rose (Eng) 6.42
5 Adam Scott (Aus) 6.21
6 Louis Oosthuizen (SA) 6.14
7 Lee Westwood (Eng) 6.03
8 Bubba Watson (US) 5.29
9 Jason Dufner (US) 5.29
10 Brandt Snedeker (US) 5.23
11 Webb Simpson (US) 5.13
12 Ian Poulter (Eng) 5.00
= Keegan Bradley (US) 5.00
14 Charl Schwartzel (SA) 4.90
15 Graeme McDowell (NI) 4.81
16 Sergio Garcia (Esp) 4.73
17 Phil Mickelson (US) 4.69
18 Steve Stricker (US) 4.65
19 Peter Hanson (Swe) 4.59
20 Nick Watney (US) 4.54
Other leading Europeans: 28 Martin Kaymer, 29 Paul Lawrie, 30 Francesco Molinari, 32 Carl Pettersson, 33 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, 36 Nicolas Colsaerts, 44 Matteo Manassero, 45 Thomas Bjorn, 46 David Lynn, 47 Jamie Donaldson, 50 Thorbjorn Olesen
All-time World No.1 records
1 Tiger Woods (US) 623 weeks
2 Greg Norman (Aus) 331 weeks
3 Nick Faldo (Eng) 97 weeks
4 Seve Ballesteros (Spa) 61 weeks
5 Luke Donald (Eng) 56 weeks
6 Ian Woosnam (Wal) 50 weeks
7 Nick Price (Zim) 44 weeks
8 Vijay Singh (Fij) 32 weeks
9 Rory McIlroy (NI) 26 weeks
10 Lee Westwood (Eng) 22 weeks
11 Fred Couples (US) 16 weeks
12 David Duval (US) 15 weeks
13 Ernie Els (RSA) 9 weeks
14 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 8 weeks
15 Bernhard Langer (Ger) 3 weeks
16 Tom Lehman (US) 1 week
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I can't be alone in anticipating that McIlroy will be in exactly the same position this time next year.
Who, if anyone, can challenge him for World No.1? All fingers pointing to Mr Schwarzel at the moment.
Posted: 17/12/2012 at 17:24
I dunno, the transition to new gear might slow Rory down and you can't deny Schwarzel is playing some fantastic golf at the minute. But luuuuuuuuuke might raise his game again and bubba might stop listening to the crazy demons in his head
Posted: 17/12/2012 at 19:55
switching to inferior gear next year so will probably go backwards
Posted: 17/12/2012 at 20:20
How about Poults to finally come of age on the back of this years Ryder cup? Win that first major then maintain some consistency to oust young Rory? Stranger things have happened!
Posted: 17/12/2012 at 20:36
Now now Geordie golf, just because I'm currently a nike man.
Posted: 17/12/2012 at 20:55
And the mention of Schwarzel, we did forget to mention he is also a Nike man
Posted: 17/12/2012 at 20:56
Poulter challenge for no1 LOL
Posted: 17/12/2012 at 21:02
Charl is a Class act, could probably win using donnay.......infact, is he Not using donnays stamped with a swoosh Kev.....??
Posted: 17/12/2012 at 21:06
Only a crap tradesman blames his tools!
Posted: 17/12/2012 at 21:17
There's only one man who can challenge Mcillroy unless he doesn't continue s high standard
Posted: 17/12/2012 at 21:27
What about you, Ding? Are you in the running?
Posted: 17/12/2012 at 21:41
Who, if anyone, can challenge him for World No.1?
Reckon 1 Over will be in with a shout once he has completed his titty fittings in January
Posted: 17/12/2012 at 21:42
No SP, but I am going to play more next year. Never been good enough for the main tour, crap short game. Not too shabby with the long game though
Posted: 17/12/2012 at 21:48
I've been saying it for the past few weeks but Schwartzel will finish World No.2 behind McIlroy next year.
The guy is different class, as proven by his 84-under tally in his last five events. He's currently nine points or so behind Rory in the world rankings in 15th, so it's unlikely he will catch him in 12 months time. A couple of majors in 2013, however, would change all that.
As for Rory, I think switching ball will prove the biggest obstacle for him to overcome.
Posted: 18/12/2012 at 10:02
World No.1 at this stage next year?
Dare I say, Tiger Woods.
Watching Tiger this year his approach play with a wedge in his hand has been a bit tardy at times and his driving demons still haunt him. I think once he sorts that out, he'll be an unstoppable robot again. I read somebody say recently that Tiger was 'one major away' from where he needs to be. And I'm assuming they mean mentally. I think when Tiger feels like a winner, he is incredible.
My hope, however, is that the two wacky lefties battle it out for top spot next year. Two quirky, likeable, 'human' characters who are a credit to golf. Bubba vs Mickelson playoff at the Masters? Tell me that wouldn't make you smile.
Posted: 20/12/2012 at 09:00