LONDON -- Luke Donald regained the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking with a third-place finish in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Sunday. The 34-year-old Englishman needed a top-7 finish at TPC Louisiana to regain the No. 1 ranking from Rory McIlroy -- and he got it, finishing third.
For Donald, a final round of 67 followed earlier efforts of 73, 65 and 66 to see him finish two shots behind winner Jason Dufner. Birdies on the third, ninth, 11th, 13th and 18th holes ensured that Donald finished on his own at 17 under par.
After years of Tiger Woods' dominance, the top spot in world golf has changed hands nine times in the last 18 months.
1. Luke Donald
2. Rory McIlroy
3. Lee Westwood
4. Bubba Watson
5. Hunter Mahan
6. Steve Stricker
7. Tiger Woods
8. Martin Kaymer
9. Justin Rose
10. Phil Mickelson
"That's a nice consolation," Donald said, adding that the rankings could change again when he takes this coming week off and McIlroy returns to action at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C. "It's been going back and forth a little bit. Rory's turn next week. ... It was a little bit of a motivation to try and play well today."
The switch means the top spot in world golf has changed hands nine times in the last 18 months, with Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer also holding the position.
There was a lot of movement in the latest edition of the rankings, especially considering so few top players were on hand in New Orleans.
After Donald and McIlroy traded places, Lee Westwood remained in third, with Bubba Watson still in fourth and Hunter Mahan still in fifth. But Steve Stricker moved from seventh up to sixth, and Tiger Woods followed him, going from eighth to seventh. Martin Kaymer, formerly ranked sixth, dropped to eighth.
Justin Rose climbed from 10th up to ninth, switching places with Phil Mickelson, who slipped from ninth to 10th place.
The second 10 includes No. 11 Louis Oosthuizen, No. 12 Charl Schwartzel, No. 13 Adam Scott, No. 14 Webb Simpson, No. 15 Matt Kuchar, No. 16 Jason Day, No. 17 Dustin Johnson, No. 18 Graeme McDowell, No. 19 Bill Haas 4.36 and No. 20 Jason Dufner.
Dufner, of course, won in New Orleans, earning his first PGA Tour victory after 164 career starts and after several near-misses over the past year. He had been ranked 30th heading into New Orleans, and is now in the top 20 for the first time in his career.
Dufner edged out Ernie Els on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff at TPC Louisiana, but Els advanced more spots than did Dufner -- climbing from 63rd up to 40th place. That result should go a long way to securing Els a start in the U.S. Open in June after he barely missed out on a berth in the Masters.
Also this week, Bernd Wiesberger of Austria climbed into the top 100 thanks to his five-stroke victory at the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea. Wiesberger jumped up to 95th place from his previous perch at No. 170.