On Sunday, April 6, 1986, following the final round of the Greater Greensboro Open, and a week ahead of the Masters Tournament, the Official World Golf Rankings were launched.
The top-10 ranked golfers were: 1. Bernhard Langer, 2. Seve Ballesteros, 3. Sandy Lyle, 4. Tom Watson, 5. Mark O’Meara, 6. Greg Norman, 7. Tsuneyuki “Tommy” Nakajima, 8. Hal Sutton, 9. Corey Pavin, and 10. Calvin Peete. (46-year-old Jack Nicklaus, who would go on to win the 1986 Masters, was ranked No. 33.)
Since then, only 111 golfers have reached the top 10, which is incredible when you think about the number of players who’ve moved in and out of the various pro golf tours for some 30-plus years.
Leading the way is none other than Tiger Woods, who holds the record for the most number of weeks in the world top 10 with 860. He is followed by South African Ernie Els, who racked up 788 weeks in the top 10, and Phil Mickelson with 775.
Woods had a record run of 736 consecutive weeks in the top 10 – from April 1997 to May 2011, and had a second stretch from March 2012 to August 2014, totaling 124 weeks.
Greg Norman was in the top 10 for 646 consecutive weeks from the start of the rankings in 1986, when he’d already turned 30, until August 16, 1998.
Sergio Garcia is the youngest player to reach the top 10. The Spaniard did it one week after his 20th birthday. Rory McIlroy (20 years, 202 days) and Jordan Spieth (20, 256) are the only other players to reach the top 10 before turning 21.
Woods (21, 104) and Jon Rahm (22, 199) round out the top-5 youngest.
Masashi “Jumbo” Ozaki is the oldest player to have appeared in the top 10. The Japanese legend was 51 when he last appeared in the top 10 (April 26, 1998).
Of the 111 golfers who’ve made the top 10, only 35 have had the staying power of 200 weeks, though.
Amazingly, of the current top-10 crop, a full half have at least 200 weeks on the exclusive list: No. 1 Rahm (205), No. 3 Dustin Johnson (380), No. 7 Justin Thomas (224), No. 8 McIlroy (566), and No. 10 Spieth (217).
Of those five superstars, DJ holds the longest current streak with 336 consecutive weeks. After winning the 2015 WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral, the then 30-year old jumped back into the top 10 and has never left.
Next is Thomas, who made his first appearance in the top 10 on January 15, 2017 after winning back-to-back titles in Hawaii. The Kentucky native stayed there for 14 weeks, and after bouncing between Nos. 11 and 15, he dived back in – going from 14th to 6th after his win at the PGA Championship in August 2017. He’s remained there ever since – 212 straight weeks.
That’s what you call elite consistency.