McIlroy returns to No. 1 for first time in 4 years

Golf

For the first time in more than four years, Rory McIlroy is No. 1 in the world.

The golfer from Northern Ireland who is the reigning PGA Tour player of the year and FedEx Cup champion took over the top spot from Brooks Koepka despite not playing.

When Koepka tied for 17th a week ago at the Saudi International, it paved the way for McIlroy, 30, to move back to the top spot this week. The four-time major champion was last No. 1 in September of 2015.

Since missing the cut at The Open in his hometown of Portrush, Northern Ireland, McIlroy has nine top-9 finishes in 11 worldwide starts, including two victories. In his last four starts, he’s tied for third, won, finished fourth and tied for third.

Koepka went to No. 1 when he defended his PGA Championship title in May and solidified it with a World Golf Championship victory as well as finishing among the top four in all of the major championships.

But after a stem cell procedure on his knee, Koepka re-injured it when he slipped at a tournament in South Korea in October. He didn’t play again until a few weeks ago in Abu Dhabi.

Both McIlroy and Koepka are part of a stacked field at this week’s Genesis Invitational.

With his tie for eighth at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Jordan Spieth moved to 49th in the world and has qualified for next week’s WGC-Mexico Championship. Phil Mickelson narrowly missed after finishing third at Pebble Beach; a tie for second – he missed a last-hole birdie putt – would have moved him into the top 50.

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