Rory McIlroy eager to retain world number one ranking

Rory McIlroy with the Honda Classic trophy

New world number one Rory McIlroy has outlined his intention to remain at the top of the rankings.

The 22-year-old is the third player from the United Kingdom to reach number one in the last 18 months, following Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

"I'd like to stay there for a while," he said after his

"As long as I keep playing good golf and have chances to win tournaments, then hopefully I'll stay up there."

McIlroy advanced to the number one ranking after a remarkable sequence of results.

Since last year's PGA Championship in August, he has won two tournaments, finished second four times, third twice and only once finished outside the top five, when he was 11th at the Dubai World Championship while suffering from Dengue Fever.

"I feel the way I'm playing at the minute, the level of consistency, hopefully I'm going to be able to stay there for a while," he said.

"It was always a dream of mine to become the world number one and the best player in the world, or whatever you want to call it.

"But I didn't know I would be able to get here this quickly. Hopefully, I can hold on to it for a little longer."

Graeme McDowell, who won the 2010 US Open to begin a run of three major titles for Northern Ireland in six Championships, continued by McIlroy and Darren Clarke, said that putting had been the key component for his young compatriot to progress to the top.

"That was the missing link, because the rest of his game is all there," McDowell said. "As soon as he learned how to putt, he was going to be a dominating force, and you're starting to see that now."

McIlroy's win in Florida was all the more admirable as he defied superb final-day challenges from former world number ones Tiger Woods, who carded a vintage 62, and Westwood, who shot a 63.

"I'm excited to be part of golf right now," McDowell said. "It's great to have Tiger Woods back playing the kind of golf we know he can play, because he's exciting for the sport.

"But Rory keeps working harder and he has much more belief in himself and he knows what he wants to do now and he knows how to do it."

Donald, the man deposed as number one, chose not to play in Florida and said on Twitter:external-link "Congrats @McIlroyRory enjoy the view!"

McIlroy's victory saw him become the second youngest world number one in history behind Woods and, speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, his trainer Michael Bannon said: "Rory has been in the spotlight all his life.

"He got his [tour] card so early, he got on the tour, won a tournament so young, won a major so young and now he's number one in the world and he's only 22.

"Rory just gets better and better all the time."