Henrik Stenson made Rory McIlroy’s nightmare 2013 season look at little worse on Sunday when he claimed the Tour Championship, the $10m FedEx Cup bonus and moved to No 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking, pushing the Holywood star down to sixth.
The 37-year old Swede, who was ranked outside the top 200 in the world two years ago, closed with a two-under par 68 to win by three shots from rookie Jordan Spieth and veteran Steve Stricker on 13 under par at East Lake in Atlanta.
Tiger Woods, who finished 22nd on level par after a 67, tops the rankings from Masters champion Adam Scott and Open champion Phil Mickelson with England’s Justin Rose, who was sixth in the Tour Championship, remaining fifth in the world.
Graeme McDowell remained at No 11, Shane Lowry fell one place to 84th while Pádraig Harrington fell one spot to 95th having started 2013 ranked 59th.
McDowell and Lowry are confirmed as the highest ranked Irish players available for the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf later this year.
Michael Hoey 213th (down 13), Peter Lawrie 238th (down eight), Damien McGrane 279th (down two) complete the Irish rankings inside the world’s top 300.
Down the list, Simon Thornton is 301st (up 27), David Higgins 377th (up 307), Gareth Maybin 334th (down one), Darren Clarke 375th (down three) and Paul McGinley 408th (down five).
McIlroy, who began the year as world No 1, lost the top ranking when Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill on March 25.
The Co Down man was world No 1 for a total of 39 weeks, taking over from Luke Donald on March 4 2012 and swapping the top spot with the Englishman three times before Woods ended his 32-week run at No 1 with victory at Bay Hill.
McIlroy triumphed five times in 2013, winning the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and topping the world money list with earnings of $10,961,511. He was player of the year on both the European Tour and the PAG Tour
This season, he has yet to win and will not return to action until the Kolon Korean Open in three weeks’ time.
Following a missed cut in his first event following the signing of a lucrative endorsement contract with Nike Golf at the Abu Dhabi Championship in January, he has struggled to regain the form that has brought him two majors since 2011.
Following his Abu Dhabi reverse, he did not play for another month, lost to Shane Lowry in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play on his return and then walked off the course in frustration after completing just 26 holes in his defence of the Honda Classic title the following week.
He has had five top 10 finishes in 18 strokeplay starts with his share of eighth in the US PGA his best return in the majors.
Tied for 25th in the Masters, where his third round 79 scuppered his chances, he was 41st in the US Open, missed the cut in the Irish Open and also in The Open at Muirfield, where he shot rounds of 79 and 75.
The US PGA appeared to signal a revival in his fortunes but he was off form in the FedEx Cup playoffs and failed to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship.