McIlroy the top ranked Irishman for a tenth straight year

Bernie McGuire

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

For a 10th straight season, Rory McIlroy ends the year as the highest ranked Irish golfer on the official World Rankings. McIlroy heads into 2021 currently ranked World No.4, still trailing American Dustin Johnson who has now been World No.1 for a combined 110 weeks.

That’s seen the double major winning ‘DJ’ elbow his way into third spot overall as the world’s leading No. 1 on the Rankings and now four more week’s atop of the golfing world than McIlroy. McIlroy has also ended the COVID-hit 2020 year without a victory and that’s just a second time since 2017 that the Holywood golfing star has played in a year without a win since his first pro victory in 2009.

Padraig Harrington had been the end-of-year highest-ranked Irish golfer for many years before Graeme McDowell took over that mantle at the end of 2010, thanks that year to his U.S. Open triumph. But since being runner-up, one spot ahead of McDowell, at the 2011 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, McIlroy’s been the Emerald Isle’s leading golfer on the World Rankings.


McIlroy confirmed he will make his 2021 debut in Abu Dhabi starting on January 21st where he’s been runner-up in the UAE capital on four occasions. Joining McIlroy will be 2019 Abu Dhabi winner Shane Lowry who ends his 11th full season in the pro ranks at No. 33 in the world.

Both McIlroy and Lowry are exempt into next April’s Masters with McDowell now needing a repeat of his last February’s victory at the Saudi International when GMac muscled his way from 104th in the world to 47th to secure a Masters invitation. McDowell ends a very disappointing post return to competition since the June 11th lifting of the golf lockdown to end 2020 as the World No. 80 having picked-up three spots in the three weeks since the end of the European Tour year. It means McDowell is going to have to produce a repeat of his Saudi win or put together some strong finishes to be joining McIlroy and Lowry in Augusta starting on 8th April, 2021.

Last man automatically into the 2021 Masters is England’s Matt Wallace, holding down 50th spot on the Rankings but then missing out for a first time in a decade is American Rickie Fowler who ends the year as World No. 53. In contrast, making the biggest leaps on the rankings in 2020 and into the top-50 were Americans Daniel Berger (154th to 13th), Matthew Wolff (117th to 15th), Harris English (183rd to 28th) and Canadian Mackenzie Hughes (264th to 49th), though each already qualified for the 2021 Masters via winning on the PGA Tour.

Meanwhile continuing uncertainty over the worldwide pandemic has seen the 2021 Masters organising committee Tournament delay its ticketing process for the next April’s event. The pandemic saw the 2020 Masters move to November but with no ‘patrons’ and now the famed Georgia club remains undecided if it will go ahead with producing 2021 Masters patron’s badges.

Masters organisers sent an email to patrons saying: “As planning continues on how to stage the 2021 Masters Tournament safely and responsibly, we would like to inform you that Augusta National is delaying the ticket process for Patron Series Badges, which traditionally begins Jan. 1. Our intention is to communicate our decisions for the 2021 Masters to all patrons of record by the end of January. No further action is needed with your account at this time.”

Masters patron badges are good for the four tournament rounds only and do not include practice rounds. The cost of a badge for 2020 was to be Euro 305 ($US 375), and when the Masters announced in August that it would play in November without spectators, it offered to defer those badges to 2021.


  • No. 4-  Rory McIlroy
  • No. 33 – Shane Lowry
  • No. 80 – Graeme McDowell
  • No. 304 – Padraig Harrington
  • No. 332 – Jonathan Caldwell
  • No. 389 – Cormac Sharvin
  • No. 429 – Seamus Power
  • No. 747 – Paul Dunne
  • No.794 – Gavin Moynihan


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