The Official World Golf Ranking was introduced in 1986.
The ranking takes into account a golfer’s performance over a rolling two-year period. The ranking is updated each week.
Since its inception, there have been 21 different players who have earned the No. 1 spot in the world ranking. You can probably guess who holds the title for the most weeks in the top spot. Some of the other names on this list may surprise you.
Here is the complete list of golfers who reached No. 1 in OWGR history and how long each of them was ranked in the top spot.
Jon Rahm, 1 week
Jack Nicklaus stands with Jon Rahm after Rham won the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)
Jon Rahm claimed the No. 1 spot on the Official World Golf Ranking on July 19, 2020 when he won the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village by three shots. Rahm, who has four PGA Tour victories, has been consistent despite the 2019-20 season being paused for 13 weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. This season, Rahm played in 10 events leading up to the Memorial and finished in the top-10 in half, including his win at Muirfield, two second place finishes and one T-3.
Tom Lehman, 1 week
Tom Lehman celebrate winning the 125th Open Championship in 1996 at the Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club. (Stephen Munday/Getty Images)
Lehman spent an entire week in the No. 1 spot in the OWGR, doing so during the stretch from April 20-26, 1997. He is the only golfer to hold the top spot for just one week. Lehman also has one major to his credit, the 1996 Open Championship, which he claimed at Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club in the United Kingdom.
Bernhard Langer, 3 weeks
Bernhard Langer at the 1986 Open Championship at Turnberry. (Simon Bruty/Getty Images)
Langer held the top spot for three weeks but his real distinction here is that he was the very first golfer to be ranked No. 1 when the OWGR launched in 1986. Langer was coming off a 1985 Masters victory, his first of two majors. He would win again at Augusta National in 1993.
Justin Thomas, 4 weeks
Justin Thomas after winning the FedEx Cup following the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club. (Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports)
Thomas won his first major at the 2017 PGA Championship and less than a year later, he ascended to the top spot in the OWGR after the 2018 Players Championship. He held the No. 1 ranking for four consecutive weeks before giving way to Dustin Johnson.
Martin Kaymer, 8 weeks
Martin Kaymer holds the Wanamaker Trophy after winning a playoff in the U.S. PGA Championship Aug. 15, 2010, at Whistling Straits. (USA Today Sports)
Kaymer rose to prominence in 2010 when he won the PGA Championship, the first of his two majors. He became the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world in 2011, overtaking Lee Westwood, and he held the top spot for eight weeks. In 2014, he won his second major at the U.S. Open.
Ernie Els, 9 weeks
Ernie Els during the 1998 U.S. Open Championship in San Francisco. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)
Els reached the pinnacle of the OWGR in 1997 soon after winning the U.S. Open. It was his second U.S Open crown. He has 71 professional wins, 19 on the PGA Tour and spent nine weeks atop the OWGR.
Adam Scott, 11 weeks
Adam Scott during the final round of the 2010 Singapore Open. (File photo)
Scott was No. 1 during the summer of 2014 for 11 weeks. He has won his only major, the Masters, about 14 months before that. In March of 2014, he shot a 62 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. A week after becoming the second Australian golfer to be ranked No. 1, Scott won at Colonial, confirming his newfound status, a spot he would hold just about three months.
Justin Rose, 13 weeks
Justin Rose during the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 22, 2017 in Southport, England. (Warren Little/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)
Rose posted the best cumulative score at all of the four majors in 2018, including a second place finish at the Open Championship. Those performances vaulted him to No. 1 in the OWGR. Rose would also win the FedEx Cup championship that year.
David Duval, 15 weeks
David Duval celebrates after posting a 59 score during the 1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic at PGA West in La Quinta, California. (Harry How/Allsport)
Duval, a Jacksonville, Florida, native, won 13 times on the PGA Tour 1997 and 2001. His lone major came in the 2001 Open Championship. Injuries curtailed his career.
Fred Couples, 16 weeks
Fred Couples after winning the 1992 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. (Chris Smith/Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Couples first gained No. 1 status in March 1992 for a week – then lost it – before winning the Masters. He also won the Players Championship in 1984 and 1996 and 62 other professional events. Couples entered the Golf Hall of Fame in 2013.
Lee Westwood, 22 weeks
Lee Westwood during the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. (Harry How/Getty Images)
An Englishman, Westwood has 42 pro wins, the bulk of which came on the European Tour. He was Player of the Year in 1998, 2000 and 2009. Westwood became No. 1 in 2009, ending the record 281-consecutive-week run of Tiger Woods.
Jordan Spieth, 26 weeks
A three-time major champion, Spieth gained No. 1 status for the first time in August 2015 after finishing second to Jason Day in the PGA Championship. He won the FedEx Cup to conclude the 2015 season.
Jordan Spieth holds the Claret Jug after winning the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England. (David Cannon/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)
Vijay Singh, 32 weeks
Vijay Singh with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 2004 PGA Championship. (USA TODAY Sports)
Fiji’s only world-class golfer, Singh notched 34 victories on the PGA Tour from 1993-2008 and has 62 professional victories overall. He won three majors, including the PGA Championship twice, and was the leading PGA Tour money winner in 2003, 2004 and 2008. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006.
Brooks Koepka, 38 weeks
Koepka ascended to the top spot after winning the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. It was his second PGA title and fourth major overall. Koepka was bumped out of the No. 1 slot by Rory McIlroy, who last held the top spot in 2015. Koepka won twice during the eight-month stretch he was ranked No. 1.
Brooks Koepka celebrates with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage State Park. (Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports)
Nick Price, 44 weeks
Nick Price after winning the British Open held at the Turnberry Golf Resort, Scotland, 17th July 1994. (Phil Sheldon/Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Born in South Africa and raised in what is now Zimbabwe, Price won 16 of the 54 tournaments he played in worldwide from 1992-94. During that time, he was PGA Tour Player of the Year and the Tour’s top money winner twice.
Ian Woosnam, 50 weeks
Ian Woosnam receives the green jacket from Nick Faldo after winning the 1991 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Club. (David Cannon/Getty Images)
The 1991 Masters champion, Woosnam has 51 professional victories worldwide and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2017. A 5-foot-4 Welshman, Woosnam has played in the Masters 30 times.
Jason Day, 51 weeks
Jason Day celebrates winning the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. (File photo)
Day became the No. 1 golfer in the world for the first time in September 2015. He has 12 PGA Tour victories and has finished second 10 times. His lone major title came in the 2015 PGA Championship.
Luke Donald, 56 weeks
Luke Donald wins the 2006 Honda Classic at the Country Club at Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (A. Messerschmidt/PGA Tour)
Donald finished the 2011 season with the No. 1 ranking. Much of his success came on the European Tour. He became No. 1 in May 2011 after defeating Lee Westwood in a playoff to win the BMW PGA Championship.
Seve Ballesteros, 61 weeks
Seve Ballesteros. (Getty Images)
Ballesteros won five majors, including the Masters twice (1980, 1983) and the Open Championship three times (1979, 1984, 1988). His success and flair endeared him to fans in both his native Spain, across Europe and in the U.S. Ballesteros, 54, died in 2011 after battling a brain tumor.
Dustin Johnson, 91 weeks
Dustin Johnson after winning the WGC – Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec. (Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)
Johnson has had five different stops at No. 1, including a stretch from February 2017 to June 2018. He recaptured the top spot four weeks later and held it for 13 more weeks. The last time he held the No. 1 spot was May 2019.
Nick Faldo, 97 weeks
Nick Faldo at the 1987 British Open (David Cannon/Getty Images)
Faldo was just the fourth player to ever earn the No. 1 ranking, doing it for the first time in 1990. After finishing No. 2 in the world for three straight years, Faldo took the No. 1 spot for the third time in July 1992 and held it until February of 1994. He won three Open Championships and three Masters titles.
Rory McIlroy, 98 weeks
Rory McIlroy after winning the 2019 Players Championship on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
McIlroy reclaimed the top spot after the Farmers Insurance Open in 2020. He was last ranked No. 1 in 2015. The 1,605 days between stints at No. 1 is the longest in the world ranking’s history. McIlroy overtook Brooks Koepka, who held the top spot for 38 weeks. McIlroy has won four majors before his 26th birthday — the 2011 U.S Open, the PGA Championship (2012 and 2014) and the 2014 Open Championship.
Greg Norman, 331 weeks
Greg Norman during the Franklin Templeton Shootout Pro-Am at Tiburon Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort. (Luke Franke/Naples Daily News)
Norman became just the third player, after Bernhard Langer and Seve Ballesteros, to be ranked No. 1 in the world when he earned that distinction on Sept. 14, 1986. Nearly 32 years later, he appeared in the 2018 ESPN Body Issue. Norman won 91 times overall, including 20 times on the PGA Tour. He also won the Open Championship in 1986 and 1993.
Tiger Woods, 683 weeks
Tiger Woods after winning the 1999 PGA Championship at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois. (Jamie Squire/Allsport vs Getty Images)
There is a limit to the superlatives left to describe Woods’ golf career. He first rose to the top of the Official World Golf Rankings for one week in June 1997. He would appear five more times at No. 1 from 1997-1999 before beginning a 264-week run atop the rankings. The 10th time he was ranked No. 1 in the world, he would hold that spot for a record 281-consecutive weeks. He finally yielded the top spot to Lee Westwood in October 2010.