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Since he was grip-high to a driver, Rory McIlroy's signpost has been Tiger Woods. Growing up in Northern Ireland, McIlroy studied the details of Woods's career as if memorizing a road map.

McIlroy has long cited Woods as a boyhood hero. Now the pair are competitors, bound together by a rivalry that illuminated a thrilling afternoon at the US PGA as the American posted the best final round of his US PGA career to give McIlroy the fright of his young life. It was a moment of truth for the Northern Irishman, a signal that the tournament victory and No1 ranking would not come easily. His one-under round of 69 in response was solid if unspectacular, though such matters of style hardly mattered.

Rory McIlroy's ascension to the top spot turned out exactly the way it's supposed to happen.

Three years ago, when Rory McIlroy was 19 years old, Tiger Woods said the Northern Irishman would be the world's No1-ranked player one day. As it turned out, that prediction by Woods, who knows something about being No1 (623 total weeks, ending in Oct 2010) came true at his expense.

Rory McIlroy propelled himself to the golfing summit last night with a display befitting the No1 player.