The scenario where Scottie Scheffler, and not Rory McIlroy, is world No. 1 after Kapalua

The next time Rory McIlroy tees it up, he might not be world No. 1.

With McIlroy skipping this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, he is leaving the door open for No. 2 Scottie Scheffler to potential usurp the top position in the Official World Golf Ranking. According to Twitter’s resident OWGR guru, Nosferatu, Scheffler would return to No. 1 in the world with a solo third or better.

Just 39 players are in the field for the new year's lid-lifter in Hawaii.

Scheffler, who won four times last year, including his first major title at the Masters, hasn’t been No. 1 since McIlroy overtook him after winning the CJ Cup in October.

Last year, world No. 1 changed hands just three times, with Jon Rahm beginning 2022 as No. 1 before Scheffler dethroned him after a March victory at the WGC-Dell Match Play.

McIlroy is using his one free pass as it relates to the PGA Tour’s new elevated events. He is expected to make his 2023 debut later this month at the DP World Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic, with his next PGA Tour start likely coming at next month’s WM Phoenix Open, another elevated event.

Scheffler headlines a TOC field this week that includes 17 of the top 20 players in the OWGR. Only McIlroy (1), Cam Smith (3) and Shane Lowry (20) are absent.