England’s Lee Westwood became world number one golfer for the first time, ending American Tiger Woods’s 281-week reign at the top of the sport.
German Martin Kaymer needed a top-two finish at Valderrama to become number one himself but ended Sunday’s fourth round seven over – well off the lead.
Kaymer fired a final-round 75 to finish 10 shots behind winner Graeme McDowell.
Westwood, 37, becomes Europe’s first number one golfer since compatriot Nick Faldo achieved the feat in 1994.
Kaymer, the USPGA champion, had started the day nine shots adrift of leader Graeme McDowell after opening with a 72 on Thursday and following that with a 75 and a third round 70.
The 25-year-old, therefore, required a sensational effort on Sunday to move up the leaderboard and claim top spot. But despite a birdie on the third Kaymer showed little of his recent fine form and ended the day four over par.
“Of course I’m disappointed,” said Kaymer “I thought if I had a fast weekend I could still play a role but I missed too many putts.
“You have to accept it isn’t your week. I don’t think trying to get to number one played any part.
“It was in the back of my mind but I didn’t play differently, any more aggressively or defensively. I liked the challenge and I think I’ll have another chance in the next few weeks.
“Lee deserves it, he’s one of the greatest guys on the European Tour.”
McDowell’s victory saw him close the gap on Kaymer in the Race To Dubai, the European Tour’s money list. The Northern Irishman also moves up to 10th in the world rankings, becoming the sixth European in the top 10 alongside four Americans.
For Woods it is a remarkable fall from grace having at one time seemed unstoppable in his assault on Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major wins.
He has faltered badly after a knee injury and revelations about his personal life that saw him take an extended break from the game.
Westwood, who has yet to win a major, is currently recovering from a calf problem but intends to return at next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, where he will face Woods as well as Kaymer and Phil Mickelson.
The Englishman’s career has been in two phases, he spent 180 weeks in the top-10 between 1998 and 2001, winning the Order of Merit in 2000 and reaching world number four.
But he took a break from the game after the birth of his first child and rather lost his way, dropping outside the top 250 in the rankings.
His next victory was not until the BMW International Open in 2003, but when he won the Andalucia Open and British Masters in 2007 he moved back into the top 50 and by the end of the 2008 season he was back in the top 10.
The Worksop golfer won the inaugural Race To Dubai in 2009, when he was one shot away from being in a play-off for the Open Championship with Tom Watson and Stewart Cink.
At this year’s Masters he was one stroke ahead going into the final day but was denied by Mickelson’s magnificent final round of 67 and was runner-up to Louis Oosthuizen, seven shots adrift, in the Open at St Andrews, before the calf injury hampered the remainder of his season.
He turned professional in 1993 after becoming British youths champion and has won 20 times on the European Tour and twice on the USPGA Tour, while he recorded four triumphs on the Japan Tour and six in other tour events.
The father-of-two has made seven Ryder Cup appearances, being in the winning side five times, including the most recent success at Celtic Manor in September.