Northern Irish professional golfer Rory McIlroy admitted he has fulfilled his childhood ambition after become the second youngest player to reach the top of the official world rankings.
The 22-year-old - who triumphed in this weekend's (March 1st - 4th) PGA Tour Honda Classic event in Florida - reached the coveted position at just one year older than 14-time major winner Tiger Woods
did in 1997.
His victory in the hotly-contested tournament was enough to knock Englishman Luke Donald
from the top spot after a nine-month stint, which saw the 34-year-old both the PGA Tour money list and the Race to Dubai in Europe last year.
McIlroy's victory was certainly far from easy, as a sensational performance from Woods on the final day brought him back up to ten-under-par and a superb score of 62, but the Holywood golfer's birdie on the 13th and skill out of the bunker led him to a two-shot triumph.
"It's very special," he commented. "When I was ten or 11 I was interviewed and said I wanted to be the best player in the world and I wanted to win majors."
Englishman Justin Rose
had shared the lead at the halfway mark with US competitor Tom Gillis - who has enjoyed a 22-year professional career - but was then forced to scramble for a joint fourth place following a one-over score of 71 on Sunday.
McIlroy, on the other hand, enjoyed a hat-trick of birdies starting on the long third, which he carried out with a two putt and found the hole from 22 and ten feet.
Mistakes on the following two put an end to his promising run and placed his position at the top of the leaderboard in doubt, as he came short of the green on the sixth and three-putted the short seventh.
"This is where I want to be. This is why I play golf
, to put myself in contention to win tournaments and try to become the best player in the world," McIlroy said after his impressive recovery.
Meanwhile, Englishman Paul Casey
- who turned professional in November 2000 - has announced he will make his long-awaited return from injury at the upcoming WGC-Cadillac Championship, which is set to take place next week.
The 34-year-old is said to have fully recovered from a shoulder injury that he sustained during a snowboarding accident that took place just before Christmas last year and will be ready to show off his skills at the event at Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami, Florida.