Rory McIlroy fulfills his promise to return to the #1 position in the world after defending his CJ Cup title



CNN

When Rory McIlroy won CJ Cup 2021he insisted that he was still capable of being the best golfer in the world.

Nearly a year ago on Sunday, the Northern Irishman made a strong statement by defending his crown in South Carolina and regaining his No. 1 title in South Carolina. First place in the ranking for the first time in more than two years.

McIlroy hit 67 on the final day to finish 17-under at Congaree Golf Club and take a one-stroke victory over Kurt Kitayama, a fast-paced three-in-a-row birdie run over the stretch, eventually enough to see a four-time top winner over the line despite to close with two scarecrows.

Kitaema finished off an impressive performance, hitting four balls to 67 without a ghost, but the American couldn’t find the bird he needed in the last six holes to reach the playoffs.

McIlroy’s 23rd PGA Tour title brought him $1.89 million in prize money and enough ranking points to pass 45th-place Scotty Sheffler and reclaim the top spot. 1st place for the first time since July 2020.

This is the ninth time the 33-year-old McIlroy has been ranked No. 1 in his career, behind only Tiger Woods and Greg Norman, who have been ranked No. 1 11 times. 1st – more often performed a feat.

Kitayama congratulates McIlroy on his victory.

“It means a lot, I’ve worked so hard for the last 12 months to get back to this place,” said a visibly flustered McIlroy, standing on 18th Lawn.

“I feel like I’m enjoying the game as much as I ever have, I really love the game of golf and I think that when I go out and play with that joy, it definitely shows up over the past 12 months.

“I’m looking forward to celebrating with my team tonight and over the next few weeks because it’s such a great achievement. I’m really proud of myself right now.”

When McIlroy won the same title in Las Vegas last October, he did so after crushing defeat in the Ryder Cup and, by his standards, a disappointing season.

McIlroy was then ranked 8th in the world. tearful interview after Europe’s historic 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straits, arguing that he “should have done more”.

If winning his first subsequent outing was his way of exorcising the Ryder Cup demons, the Northern Irishman has just come into his own this year.

Between his CJ Cup victories there were triumphs at the Canadian Open and Tour Championshipas 10 top 10 finishes at 16 PGA Tour events saw McIlroy rise steadily up the rankings.

McIlroy enjoyed a stellar year.

His consistency was shown on the biggest major tournament scene, where McIlroy finished eighth or better in any of the four tournaments. The only downside was that despite being painfully close at The Masters and The Open, he was unable to pull off a win to end the eight-year wait for a fifth Major.

But you won’t find McIlroy stopping at near misses this week as he recalled April’s Valero Texas Open, one of only two times all season he missed a shot at the event.

“If someone had told me on Friday night… I would be No. 1 in the world. On October 1, I would have asked them what they were smoking because I would not have believed them,” he told reporters.

“It’s been a crazy six months. I figured out some things in my game and now I have a very good result.

“Everything seems to have worked out for me and today was just a continuation of what I felt playing the last few months.

“Now it’s all about going ahead and trying to just keep it going… there’s a lot to process right now, but I’m just really proud of how I did this week knowing what’s at stake.”

McIlroy specifically credited his team, family and friends for supporting his return to the top.

McIlroy hugging caddy Harry Diamond after winning.

“That tournament last year was the start of my attempts to get back to that level,” he said.

“I had a very tough Ryder Cup… I wasn’t in the top 10 in the world, it’s not a position I’m used to. A steady climb to the top of the world of golf and what it takes: not only me, but everyone is part of my team.

“Whenever I think about it, it’s something that makes me a little breathless and excited because it’s really great to be on this journey with other people that you want to be on the journey with.”