Rory McIlroy fulfills promised return to world No.1 place after CJ Cup title protection


When Rory McIlroy received the 2021 CJ Cup, he insisted he was nonetheless able to being the world’s greatest golfer.

Virtually a 12 months to the day on Sunday, the Northern Irishman delivered on his declare in emphatic type, defending his crown in South Carolina to reclaim the No. 1 ranked spot for the primary time in over two years.

McIlroy carded a ultimate day 67 to finish 17-under at Congaree Golf Membership and clinch a one-shot victory over Kurt Kitayama, a blistering run of three straight birdies down the stretch in the end sufficient to see the four-time main winner over the road regardless of closing with two bogeys.

Kitayama closed a powerful efficiency with a bogey-free, four-under 67, however the American couldn’t discover the birdie he wanted throughout the ultimate six holes to power a play-off.

McIlroy’s twenty third title on the PGA Tour rewarded him with $1.89 million in prize cash and sufficient rating factors to leapfrog Scottie Scheffler – who completed forty fifth – and reclaim the No. 1 spot for the primary time since July 2020.

It marks the ninth event the 33-year-old McIlroy has held high spot in his profession, with solely Tiger Woods and Greg Norman – each 11-time No. 1’s – having achieved the feat extra typically.

“It means a lot, I’ve worked so hard over the last 12 months to get myself back to this place,” a visibly emotional McIlroy stated as he stood on the 18th inexperienced.

“I really feel like I’m having fun with the sport as a lot as I ever have, I completely love the sport of golf and I believe that once I exit and play with that pleasure it’s undoubtedly proven during the last 12 months.

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

When McIlroy clinched the identical title in Las Vegas final October, he did so within the wake of a shattering Ryder Cup defeat and, by his customary, an underwhelming season.

Then ranked eighth on this planet, McIlroy had given a tearful interview following Europe’s historic 19-9 loss at Whistling Straits, arguing he “should have done more”.

If victory in his first subsequent outing had been his approach of exorcising any Ryder Cup demons, the Northern Irishman has simply gone from power to power this 12 months.

Sandwiched between his CJ Cup victories have been triumphs on the Canadian Open and Tour Championship, as 10 top-10 finishes throughout 16 PGA Tour occasions noticed McIlroy steadily transfer up the rankings.

McIlroy has enjoyed a stellar year.

His consistency was exemplified on the most important stage on the majors, the place McIlroy completed no decrease than eighth in any of the 4 occasions. The one draw back was that, regardless of coming agonizingly shut at The Masters and The Open, he couldn’t seal a win to finish his eight-year await a fifth main.

However you received’t discover McIlroy dwelling on near-misses this week, as he solid his ideas again to the Valero Texas Open in April, certainly one of simply two events all season he missed the minimize at an occasion.

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

“It’s been a wild six months. I figured just a few issues out with my sport and I’ve simply been on a very good run.

“The whole lot appears like its come collectively for me and in the present day was only a continuation of how I’ve felt like I’ve been taking part in over these previous few months.

“Now it’s all about going forward and trying to just keep this going … it’s a lot to process right now but just really proud of myself with how I’ve handled this week knowing what was at stake.”

McIlroy gave a particular point out to his staff, household and pals for supporting him on his return to the highest.

McIlroy embraces caddie Harry Diamond after his win.

“This tournament last year was the start of me trying to build myself back up to this point,” he stated.

“I had a very tough Ryder Cup … I used to be outdoors the top-10 on this planet, it’s not a place that I’m used to being in. The regular climb again to the summit of world golf and what it takes: it’s not simply me, it’s everybody that’s part of my staff.

“Whenever I think about that, that’s what gets me a little bit choked up and emotional because it’s really cool to be on this journey with other people that you want to be on the journey with.”