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Rory on top of the world

It’s reasonable to describe Rory McIlroy’s rise to the top of the world golf rankings as meteoric. The Irishman has such a high profile that he seems to have been around for years, but his achievement is all the more impressive when you remember that he is just 22.

Only one player has made it to the pinnacle at a younger age, and it’s no surprise that Tiger Woods was that player. Woods was just 21 when he achieved the number one ranking in 1997.

Compared to McIlroy, Tiger is now a grizzled veteran, but his return to a semblance of his best form suggests he might offer the most concerted challenge to the Northern Ireland golfer in 2012. Woods posted a final round 62 at Tampa, just to let McIlroy know he meant business.

McIlroy offered suitably humble words about his achievement, but the secret of his success has been his resolute self-belief and substantial ego. "It means an awful lot to be able to call yourself the No1 player in the world: it is a great achievement," he said. "I am very honoured to join the list of guys who have held that spot. Hopefully I can keep a hold it for a little while."

Woods was respectful but hardly effusive in describing McIlroy. "You can't get to number one in the world unless you're consistent," Woods said, "and he's won a few times here and there but he's been very, very consistent. That's what you have to do."

The next big stage for the pair to square off is the Masters at Augusta in April.

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