The CJ Cup - Final Round
Getty Images

There's a new No. 1 golfer in the world who doubles as an old No. 1 golfer in the world. With his victory at the 2022 CJ Cup on Sunday afternoon, Rory McIlroy returned to the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time since July 2020 and ninth time in his career.

In taking down Kurt Kitayama and K.H. Lee, it was McIlroy who overtook Scottie Scheffler, ending the 2022 Masters champion's 30-week run at No. 1.

Even more remarkable than McIlroy regaining the No. 1 ranking is that he has sustained a level of greatness over the last decade. This marks McIlroy's ninth different stint at No. 1 just over 10 years after his debut in March 2012 shortly after he became a professional.

A lot has happened over the last decade, but McIlroy has not fallen out of the top 15 in the world in that time. He's one of just three golfers who have a 10-year gap between their first appearance as world No. 1 and their most recent. The other two are Tiger Woods (17 years) and Greg Norman (11.5). Nobody else more than a 3.5-year gap between appearances.

"I guess that's where I say like the cool thing about it is you get to No. 1, and it feels great in the moment," said McIlroy earlier this week. "The bad thing is you almost [have] to ... maybe work harder to stay there. I think, when you're striving toward something, not that it's easier to get there, but like once you get there, it's great. But I think the hard work is actually staying there.

"I think if I get back to No. 1 this week, it's like my ninth time getting back. It sort of illustrates you can have your runs and you can stay there, but I think the cool part is the journey and the journey getting back there. It's sort of like a heavyweight boxer losing a world title and it's a journey to get that title back. I feel like that's the cool part of it and that's the journey that I've sort of been through over the past 12 months."

McIlroy has indeed been playing some of the best golf of his career over the last year. In his last 15 starts worldwide, he has 12 top 10s, 10 top fives, three wins and just one missed cut. Since the start of 2022, he's been far and away the best statistical player in the world at over 2.7 strokes gained per round. The next closest coming into this week at the CJ Cup was Scheffler (2.5).

In a year in which McIlroy disappointingly did not win a major championship -- though he finished in the top 10 in all four -- it's a bit of a reprieve that he essentially accomplished everything else: a FedEx Cup victory, three wins on the PGA Tour, close to $30 million in on-course earnings (including FedEx Cup bonus money) and a return trip to the top of the OWGR table. It's been a remarkable showing.

Here's a look at all nine times McIlroy has been the No. 1 player in the world.

StartEndWeeks at No. 1Total Weeks at No. 1

March 2012

March 2012

2

2

April 2012

April 2012

2

4

May 2012

May 2012

3

7

August 2012

March 2013

32

39

August 2014

August 2015

54

93

August 2015

September 2015

1

94

September 2015

September 2015

1

95

February 2020

July 2020

11

106

October 2022

--

1

107