Braden Thornberry has this week reached the summit on the men’s World Amateur Golf Ranking.
The American has been elevated to top spot after Joaquin Niemann from Chile made the decision to turn professional.
Having played in The Masters earlier this month, the 19-year-old makes his debut as a pro in this week’s Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio. He had already relinquished his amateur status by signing sponsorship contracts.
Niemann became the first player from South America to win the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading men’s player in the 2017 World Amateur Golf Ranking.
He had held down the top spot on the Ranking since last May, but is now succeeded by Thornberry, the reigning NCAA individual champion and the recipient of the 2017 Fred Haskins Award as college player of the year.
In last year’s US Amateur at The Riviera Country Club and Bel-Air Country Club, Thornberry defeated Niemann in the opening round of matchplay.
Thornberry, who recently turned 21, went on to represent the USA in the Walker Cup, securing two singles victories to help the hosts to a convincing 19 – 7 triumph over Great Britain and Ireland at The Los Angeles Country Club.
The Mississippi native has won The Jones Cup, the Sunnehanna Amateur and has made two of three cuts on the PGA Tour, including a tied fourth at the 2017 FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis – the best finish by an amateur in the event since 1965. He will represent the USA in the Arnold Palmer Cup this summer at Evian Resort.
Niemann’s amateur highlights included winning a pair of IMG Academy Junior World Championship titles, earning Junior All-American honours and claiming the Latin America Amateur Championship in January with a closing 63, securing his invitation to The Masters. He missed the cut at Augusta National after rounds of 76 and 77.
Having joined Danny Lee and Matthew Fitzpatrick as the only 18-year-olds to earn the McCormack Medal, Niemann received an exemption into the US Open at Shinnecock Hills in June and The 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie in July. However, he has relinquished both Major Championship opportunities having turned professional.
Thornberry's countrymen, Colin Morikawa and Doug Ghim, now move to second and third spot respectively on the World Amateur Golf Ranking.