Oct. 24, 2022 By Brandon O’Neill
Rory McIlroy clinched The CJ Cup in South Carolina Sunday in a victory that propelled him back to World Number 1.
McIlroy was tied with Kurt Kitayama in the final round with five holes to go at Congaree but he rattled off three straight birdies to seize control of matters.
The County Down man effectively sealed the win with a 20-foot birdie on the 16th, although there was a hairy moment at the last, when, with a two-shot lead, McIlroy hit his long birdie putt 8 feet by.
Kitayama had just outside 20 feet for birdie but missed and McIlroy then two-putted for a 4-under 67 for a one-shot victory.
It was the 33-year-old’s 23rd win on the PGA tour and 31st worldwide.
Furthermore, it was his ninth time reaching No. 1 in the world, behind only Tiger Woods and Greg Norman (both 11) in getting to the top of the ranking the most times.
“I’ve worked so hard over the last 12 months to get back to this place,” an emotional McIlroy said afterward.
“I feel like I’m enjoying the game as much as I ever have. I played with that joy and it’s definitely showed over these last few months.
“It’s a big achievement. I’m really proud of myself right now.”
McIlroy was golf’s top dog when golf shut down for three months at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he lost the ranking to Jon Rahm.
Yesterday’s win saw him dislodging Scottie Scheffler, who had held that position for the last 30 weeks.
Asked what in particular he was enjoying about his game, McIlroy added: “Just the journey of trying to get the best out of myself, I think that’s the satisfying thing.
“I never feel like I’ve figured this game out – I don’t think I ever will figure it out – but every day, I wake up trying to get closer.”
Offaly’s Shane Lowry finished in joint 23rd place after a disappointing final round of 72 saw him finish on 6 under for the tournament.
Meanwhile, Waterford’s Seamus Power finished on level par after his round of 74, with double bogeys on the eighth and ninth holes setting the tone.
True character ❤️
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 24, 2022
Can’t ask for a better start to the season than this. Extremely proud of the work that I have put in to get back to World No. 1. So grateful for the support of my team and fans all over the world. @congareegolf is an incredible place and the fans this week were amazing. pic.twitter.com/LHK9PfQdSa
— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) October 24, 2022