Louis Oosthuizen's big come-from-behind victory at the Volvo Golf Champions in his native South Africa boosted him up to a career-high fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking, while Russell Henley advanced to 50th with his history-making win at the Sony Open. Oosthuizen entered last week at sixth in the ranking, while Henley zoomed up from 130th.
Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion trailed third-round leader Scott Jamieson by five shots heading into the final round of the exclusive winners-only event that kicked off the 2013 European Tour. But he shot a final round 6-under 66 to collect his sixth European Tour trophy.
Rory McIlroy is now in his 30th week atop the world rankings, the ninth-longest reign as No. 1. Eighth on the list is Vijay Singh, who held the top spot for 32 weeks.
1. Rory McIlroy
2. Tiger Woods
3. Luke Donald
4. Louis Oosthuizen
5. Justin Rose
6. Adam Scott
7. Lee Westwood
8. Brandt Snedeker
9. Bubba Watson
10. Steve Stricker
Henley, meanwhile, became the first player since 2001 to win in his debut as a PGA Tour rookie. At 24-under 256, he carded the second-best score for a 72-hole tournament in PGA Tour history, and broke the Sony Open record score by four shots. He also finished with five straight birdies – only one of them inside 10 feet – for a 29 on the back nine and a 7-under 63, the lowest finish by a Sony Open winner.
Considering that so few top players played over the weekend, there was a lot of movement at the top of the ranking. Rory McIlroy, who will make his season debut this week in Abu Dhabi, remains No. 1, while his fellow Nike endorser Tiger Woods squeaked back into second by a few decimal points, moving Luke Donald down to third.
Oosthuizen’s move to fourth from his previous spot at No. 6 dropped Justin Rose down to fifth and Adam Scott down to sixth place. Lee Westwood remained seventh, Brandt Snedeker stuck in eighth and Bubba Watson held tight in ninth, while Steve Stricker jumped to No. 10 from his previous spot at No. 18.
The second 10 includes No. 11 Jason Dufner (down from ninth), No. 12 Keegan Bradley (down from 11th), No. 13 Dustin Johnson (down from 12th), No. 14 Ian Poulter (up from 15th), No. 15 Webb Simpson (down from 14th), No. 16 Charl Schwartzel, No. 17 Graeme McDowell, No. Sergio Garcia, No. 19 Phil Mickelson and No. 20 Peter Hanson.
''I knew I had to start well to remind Scott that we were still chasing him, and I was very chuffed to be in the lead by the 11th,'' Oosthuizen said.
Oosthuizen gradually erased Jamieson's lead before overtaking him with his sixth birdie of the day on the 11th hole. He added another birdie on 14 before a short miss for par on the 16th. Jamieson still nearly managed to force a playoff, but his chip on the 18th stopped just inches short of the cup. Oosthuizen finished with a 16-under total of 272 at Durban Country Club as Jamieson finished second by a shot.
Henley, by comparison, cruised to his three-shot victory, and earned a spot in the Masters.
''I'm pretty speechless,'' Henley said. ''I was trying not to think about Augusta out there because I just kept telling myself, 'This is a long year, you're going to play this game a long time, and be patient, it doesn't have to happen now.' Everything I could to psyche myself out of thinking about winning. It worked.''
The back nine was simply surreal – runner-up Tim Clark birdied seven of his last 11 holes and still made up only one shot on the rookie from Georgia.
Tied for the lead with fellow rookie Scott Langley to start the final round, Henley seized control with a birdie on the opening hole and then poured it on at the end. Henley had a two-shot lead with seven holes to play when he calmly sank a 10-foot par putt on the 12th, and he began to pull away with a 45-foot birdie putt on the 14th.
''He just never seemed to put a foot wrong, and when he did, he made those par putts,'' Clark said. ''That's when you know a guy is comfortable, when he's making those 8- to 10-footer for par. But I still got on the 15th hole and said, 'Well, let's finish with four birdies and see what happens.' And sure enough, he birdied the last four, too. When a guy plays that well and beats you, you just have to be happy for them.''
Henley broke by four shots the Sony Open scoring record set by John Huston in 1998 and tied by Brad Faxon in 2001 and. It was the second-lowest score for a 72-hole tournament in PGA Tour history, two shots behind Tommy Armour III in 2003 at the Texas Open. Henley also set tournament records for the low 36-hole score after his 63-63 start, he shared the 54-hole record with Langley and set another tournament record with the lowest final round by a champion.