Rory McIlroy back on top of the world and intending to stay there
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By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 12/02/20 9:10pm
Rory McIlroy signalled his intention to enjoy a lengthy stay at the top of the world rankings as he declared: "The work has only just started".
The 30-year-old regained world No 1 status on Monday for the first time since September 2015, ending Brooks Koepka's 38-week reign despite taking the week off, although Koepka and Jon Rahm both have the chance to knock McIlroy off the top with strong performances at the star-studded Genesis Invitational.
McIlroy conceded that staying at the top of the rankings would be tougher than getting there, and he insisted he had no qualms over how he ascended back to the summit having already had the "euphoric moment" of becoming world No 1 for the first time in 2012, when he held off Tiger Woods to win the Honda Classic.
"The work's only started, it's staying there that is the hard part," McIlroy said at his pre-tournament press conference at Riviera Country Club, where nine of the world's top-10 players are competing in the Tiger Woods-hosted event.
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"It's a calculation based on how you've played over the last two years. I've played well and I've played consistently well, and the mathematics add up that I'm the top of the list right now and obviously I have a chance to stay there this week.
"But I've always said it's a by-product of doing the right things week in, week out, playing well, shooting good scores, trying to win tournaments, and if I can continue to do that, then hopefully that thing just takes care of itself.
"I'm sure at some stage in my career I took a week off and got back to No 1, but I've already had that euphoric moment in 2012, when I won the Honda Classic to get to No 1 in the world. Tiger was coming down the stretch, I was able to hold him off, and that to me was the really cool moment. At least I've had one of them, so 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. 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."
McIlroy denied that he got extra satisfaction from dethroning Koepka as world No 1, insisting the battle for top spot in the rankings had been "one way" in favour of the American since he landed the first of his four majors at the US Open in 2017.
"Brooks has been phenomenal the last few years," said McIlroy. "Even starting before he won the US Open at Erin Hills, he won at Phoenix, he was doing well on the European Tour and he just went on a fantastic run winning four majors in three years.
"But I keep saying golf isn't about the other people, golf is about yourself and golf is about getting the best out of what you have. If you keep doing that and you keep that mindset, everything else will fall into place."
McIlroy also revealed he would be in favour of a change of equipment regulations and specifications as detailed in last week's Distance Insight Project Report issued by the R&A and USGA, although he feels any restrictions should be for professionals only.
He added: "I think the biggest thing that came out of the report for me, a lot of the stuff about the ball going too far and technology, it really pertains to 0.1 percent of golfers out there.
"So if they want to try to contain what we do as touring professionals, I'm all for that. Selfishly, I think that that's only a good thing for the better players, but for the game in general, I think one of the best things that came out of it was the sustainability aspect."