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Why Rory McIlroy is guaranteed to return to world number one while Graeme McDowell is back in top 50

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Rory McIlroy celebrates securing his second FedEx Cup title at East Lake in 2019

Rory McIlroy celebrates securing his second FedEx Cup title at East Lake in 2019

Getty Images

Rory McIlroy celebrates securing his second FedEx Cup title at East Lake in 2019

Even though he won't be playing next week, Rory McIlroy is certain to return to world number one for the first time in almost five years.

The complicated nature of the system guarantees that the 30-year-old will leapfrog current leader Brooks Koepka when the rankings are updated after this week's Pebble Beach Pro Am.

Neither Koepka nor world number three Jon Rahm will tee it up at the event either, meaning the only changes to the top spots will be caused by the shifting sands that make up the rankings process.

Points are calculated on a two-year rolling period, with those gained from the previous 13 weeks contributing their full value before being reduced in equal increments over the remaining 91 weeks.

Each player's final figure is then calculated by taking an average points total per tournaments played.

McIlroy is currently less than 0.2 points off the top, but having gained 18.9 points in 2020 to Koepka's 5.63, his recent form will be rewarded in spectacular style in the next update, back on top for the first time since September 2015.

It will be the Holywood man's 96th week as world number one, just one week behind Nick Faldo and fifth on the all-time list, also behind Dustin Johnson, Greg Norman and Tiger Woods.

Before his first event of 2020 at last month's Farmers Insurance Open, McIlroy said he wasn't getting preoccupied by his quest to overhaul Koepka.

"It is a by-product of playing consistently good golf and I feel like I've done that for quite a while now," he said. "So I don't want to say it feels like it's just a matter of time, but if I just keep doing what I'm doing then hopefully it's a couple weeks down the line and I'll have my chances. I'm not putting myself under any pressure to get it done."

Meanwhile, there's already good news for Graeme McDowell in this week's update as the 40-year-old has jumped 57 places to 47th, returning to the top 50 for the first time since 2015.

Belfast Telegraph