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Tuesday 14 August 2018

Europe boss top four after champ's Open heroics

Rory McIlroy's stunning eight-shot victory at the US Open has helped Europe claim the top four spots in the world rankings for the first time in nearly 20 years.

The 22-year-old Irishman's win at the Congressional Country Club in Maryland on Sunday has lifted him from eighth to fourth in the rankings behind Ryder Cup team mates Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer. It is the first time Europeans have occupied the four leading positions since Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal, Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer were in the top five in February 1992.

Number two Westwood was denied by the narrowest of margins in his bid to knock fellow Briton Donald off top spot in the new rankings.

Westwood finished in a tie for third at the US Open and would have leapfrogged Donald in the rankings if he had taken just one stroke fewer in his four rounds. Australian Jason Day, joint second behind South African champion Charl Schwartzel at the US Masters in April, climbed from 18th to ninth in the rankings after finishing second at Congressional.

Meanwhile, McIlroy has pulled out of next week's French Open as expected following his first major victory.

Fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell did the same after he won the title last year, preferring to let the biggest week of his life sink in rather than rush back into competition.

Whereas McDowell returned at the Scottish Open, though, the 22-year-old is now set to make The Open at Sandwich on July 14-17 his next start.

World number three Martin Kaymer is now the only top-10 player in next week's field and there are only nine from the top 50, including American left-hander Bubba Watson. It will be his first start in a non-major in Europe.

The defending champion is Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez.

The event takes place on Le Golf National course near Paris, which has been awarded the 2018 Ryder Cup.

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