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Rory McIlroy fulfills promised return to world No.1 position after CJ Cup title defense


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

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

McIlroy carded a last 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 formidable efficiency with a bogey-free, four-under 67, however the American couldn’t discover the birdie he wanted throughout the ultimate six holes to drive 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.

Kitayama congratulates McIlroy on his win.

“It means rather a lot, I’ve labored so arduous over the past 12 months to get myself again to this place,” a visibly emotional McIlroy mentioned 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 over the past 12 months.

“I’m wanting ahead to celebrating with my crew tonight and over the following couple of weeks as a result of it’s an enormous achievement. I’m actually happy with myself proper 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 commonplace, an underwhelming season.

Then ranked eighth on the earth, McIlroy had given a tearful interview following Europe’s historic 19-9 loss at Whistling Straits, arguing he “ought to have achieved extra”.

If victory in his first subsequent outing had been his manner 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 largest 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 watch for a fifth main.

However you gained’t discover McIlroy dwelling on near-misses this week, as he forged 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 somebody had informed me on the Friday evening … I’d be World No. 1 by October, I’d have requested them what they have been smoking as a result of I’d not have believed them,” he informed reporters.

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

“Every thing looks like its come collectively for me and as we speak was only a continuation of how I’ve felt like I’ve been enjoying over these previous few months.

“Now it’s all about going ahead and attempting to only maintain this going … it’s rather a lot to course of proper now however simply actually happy with myself with how I’ve dealt with this week understanding what was at stake.”

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

McIlroy embraces caddie Harry Diamond after his win.

“This match final 12 months was the beginning of me attempting to construct myself again up so far,” he mentioned.

“I had a very tough Ryder Cup … I used to be outdoors the top-10 on the earth, 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 crew.

“Each time I take into consideration that, that’s what will get me slightly bit choked up and emotional as a result of it’s actually cool to be on this journey with different folks that you simply wish to be on the journey with.”

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