Photo courtesy of Asian Tour

Justin Rose today became the 22nd player to reach the number one position in men’s golf since world rankings were first introduced in 1986.

Rose’s runner-up finish at this week’s BMW Championship at Newton Square in Philadelphia moved him past Dustin Johnson and to the top of the rankings for the first occasion and in doing so he joined fellow countrymen Nick Faldo, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald as holders of the mantle.

Interestingly, and perhaps highlighting the internationalisation of the game in the past thirty years, 15 of those 22 have been non-Americans.

Seven Americans, four Englishmen, three Australians, two Germans and one each from Spain, South Africa, Wales, Fiji, Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe make up the geographical balance of those reaching the lofty heights of the game’s top mantle.

“Yeah, that’s an end goal dream for sure,” said Rose after his near miss at the BMW. “Obviously today is all about the process, and there will be next week to win tournaments, but to get to world No. 1 is unbelievable. It’s something I can say now in my career I’ve been the best player in the world. I’ve been to the top of the game.

“That’s definitely some consolation – I just wish I could have enjoyed the moment maybe,” added Rose referring to his loss today. “This just slightly dampens it. But tomorrow or the next day, the week after, I’ll look back at this and think it was amazing, an amazing moment in my career.”

Rose began his professional career after a brilliant showing at the 1998 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale where, as a 17-year old amateur, he holed from well off the green at the last to finish 4th behind Mark O’Meara.

Rose turned professional soon after, many saying it was too soon as he struggled in so many events, taking seventeen events to finally make a cheque, that coming in June of 1999 when he finished 4th in a European Tour Challenge Tour event in Austria.

One thing that Rose did show however was a determination to learn his craft. I recall being in Portugal in a commentary role in that event in early 1999 when, after missing the cut at the Algarve Portugal Open, Rose spent time out watching play on the Saturday soaking up as much as he could by just observing players.

It is a sight that sticks with this writer in as much as it gave an insight into the mind of Rose. Despite his early struggles in the paid ranks he wanted to get better and get better quickly and he recognised the benefit of learning by example.

It would, however, take him until early 2001 to record his first top ten on the European Tour when runner-up in consecutive events in the land of his birthplace, South Africa, and the rest as they say is history.

His first victory would again come in South Africa when he won the Dunhill Championship in Johannesburg in early 2002 but two years later he began to focus his attention in the US although, as it had in Europe, it took some time to find his feet across the Atlantic.

He quit the European Tour, then, a year or two later announced a decision to return to Europe before some late season form in the USA in 2005 meant he would stay there from that point on.

To say the least, he has become one of the most successful golfers England has produced, winning the US Open in 2013 and finishing runner-up in three other major championship.

Rose has won ten events on the PGA Tour, two of those World Golf Championship events in addition to his major title. He owns six European Tour titles, the Olympic Gold Medal and four other events worldwide including the Australian Masters in 2006.

This year Rose will play his 5th Ryder Cup and with earnings of close to US$50 million on the PGA Tour alone his career is already a huge success with, it would seem, more to come.

Congratulations Justin Rose for overcoming a potentially soul-destroying start to your professional career and now reaching the lofty heights of the game’s number one ranked player.