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Page last updated at 12:49 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

McIlroy up to 35th in the world

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy will make his Masters debut in April

Rory McIlroy is now the leading Northern Ireland golfer in the world rankings after moving up to 35th.

McIlroy's improvement from 40th sees him sneaking ahead of Graeme McDowell, who edges up from 37th to 36th.

Darren Clarke has bettered his ranking by only two positions to 71st - despite his joint-second place at the African Open on Sunday.

Gareth Maybin is also in the top 100 at 92 after his fine start to his European Tour career.

Maybin's runner-up finish at the South African Open before Christmas helped him shoot up the rankings to 90th, although he has dropped a couple of places since the New Year.

McIlroy's latest rankings rise came after his share of fifth place at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Sunday.

The Holywood teenager has qualified for his first Masters in April.

Padraig Harrington finished level with McIlroy in the Middle East and the Dubliner's performance helped maintain his third place in the world rankings.

Harrington edged ahead of Phil Mickelson in the first rankings published after the New Year.

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