Ten facts about the history of golf's World number one

Dustin Johnson became the 20th man to take the position

BY Daniel Kelly 13:55 Tuesday 21 February 2017, 13:55 21 Feb 2017

Dustin Johnson. Picture by Ryan Kang AP/Press Association Images

Dustin Johnson joined an elite club on Sunday night. He became the 20th player to top golf's World rankings.

Created in 1986, Germany's Bernhard Langer was the first World number one. His time at the top of the pile only lasted three weeks, before being overtaken by Seve Ballesteros. Langer never reclaimed top spot.

Here are ten facts about the 30 years of golf's World Rankings.

  • Tom Lehman had the shortest reign of any man to top the rankings. He was the best player in the World for a single week in April 1997. Greg Norman lost the title to the American, but reclaimed it, seven days later.
  • Only two players have reached the top of the rankings, without winning a major. The English duo of Lee Westwood and Luke Donald held the title for a combined 78 weeks.

Both Lee Westwood and Luke Donald have yet to win a major. Picture by Mike Egerton EMPICS Sport

  • Tiger Woods has been at the top of the rankings for longer than anybody else. His 683 weeks as World number one, compares to a combined 929 weeks for the other 19 players.
  • Woods' record of 281 weeks uninterrupted remains a record. Between June 2005 and October 2010 he was top of the pile.
  • Both Tiger Woods and Greg Norman hold the joint-record for most times as World number one. They both reached the top of the rankings on 11 occasions each.

Tiger Woods and Greg Norman. Picture by Rebecca Naden PA Archive/PA Images

  • Only three golfers have spent a full calendar year at the top of the rankings. Nick Faldo was the first to complete the feat in 1993, followed by Greg Norman three years later. Tiger Woods spent eight full calendar years at the top of the rankings.
  • The United States has provided six World number ones, including Dustin Johnson. England and Australia both have three.
  • In 2015, the World number one position changed a record eight times. Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day all held the top spot.

Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth regularly swapped positions in the rankings in 2015. Picture by Lynne Sladky AP/Press Association Images

  • Before the start of the rankings were introduced in 1986, unofficial world golf rankings were published in Mark McCormack's World of Professional Golf Annual. These end of year rankings gave Jack Nicklaus (1968-1977), Tom Watson (1978-1982) and Seve Ballesteros (1983-1985) the top spot.
  • 12 players have reached number two in the rankings without ever getting to the top. Phil Mickelson spent 270 weeks in that agonising position.

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