Rory McIlroy has moved to 15th in the world without hitting a shot.
The Holywood idol, 19, swapped places with world No 16 Justin Rose and is now the sixth highest ranked European behind Ryder Cup stars Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson and Lee Westwood.
It was only back in October that McIlroy was celebrating breaking into the world’s top 100 after a tenth place finish in Portugal moved him up 11 places to 91st.
Heading into the ’09 season McIlroy made it clear that a place in the top 20 was his primary aim. Now, after only six weeks of the year, he is already into the top 15 and rising quickly.
Of the other Irish in the top 200, Graeme McDowell slipped one place to 36th with Darren Clarke 73rd, Gareth Maybin 93rd, Paul McGinley 121st, Damien McGrane 135th and Peter Lawrie 185th.
Meanwhile, Des Smyth will return to the Champions Tour this week after losing his card last year.
The Drogheda veteran, who turn 56 on Thursday, will tee it up on a sponsor’s invitation in the $1.65m Allianz Championship in Florida.
Smyth plans to concentrate on the European Seniors Tour this year with his first event the Brunei Senior Masters in two weeks’ time.