Rory McIlroy has become the first former World Amateur Golf Ranking number one to claim a Major Championship, after he dominated the US Open from start to finish to win by a staggering eight shots. The 22-year-old, who became the youngest winner of the US Open since Bobby Jones in 1923, was the number-one-ranked amateur in the world for a total of 31 weeks in 2007.
He also becomes the second-youngest player to win a Major in the past 80 years. Tiger Woods was 10 months younger when he won the 1997 Masters.
"If you had asked me when I turned pro when I was 18, 'Do you think you'd win a Major by the time you're 22?' I would have said no," said, the Northern Irishman, who was ranked second, behind Richie Ramsay, when the World Amateur Golf Ranking was launched in January 2007.
"I would have liked to have been an established player on the European Tour, maybe a couple of wins. But to contend in the Majors how I have so early, I don't really know what I can put it down to … if it's just hard work and practice, or if I feel like I just have a little bit more focus or intensity for major weeks.
"I'm surprised that I've done it so early. It's a great thing for me. I can always call myself a Major Champion now and I can go ahead and focus on trying to get some more,” added McIlroy, whose opening 68 as an amateur in the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie was the only bogey-free round of the day. He would go onto win the Silver Medal as leading amateur.
The strength of the WAGR system has been regularly underlined of late, including at the Ryder Cup, where two former number ones, McIlroy and Rickie Fowler performed superbly for their respective teams. Fowler would go onto be named as the PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year, while McIlroy became a fixture in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking. Today he is ranked fourth in the world.
The current WAGR number one, Patrick Cantlay, finished tied 21st at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, to claim the prize for the low amateur. Number 15 in the amateur rankings Russell Henley, finished tied with 2009 US Open Champion Lucas Glover in tied-42nd, four strokes behind Cantlay.
With the support of the USGA, WAGR is now used as a qualification criterion at a number of American events, including the US Amateur where the WAGR Top 50 will be exempt from the qualifying stage.