The ultimate steps on Rory McIlroy’s lengthy street again to No. 1 go down on the scorecard as bogeys, which made him snort. All that mattered Sunday was successful the CJ Cup in South Carolina, and that about made him cry.
McIlroy reclaimed the No. 1 ranking for the ninth time by holding off Kurt Kitayama and enduring a nervous moment at the tip with a three-putt bogey that gave him a 4-under 67 and a one-shot victory.
A profitable title protection <a href=”https://twitter.com/CJCupSC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CJCUPSC</a> 🏆<a href=”https://twitter.com/McIlroyRory?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@McIlroyRory</a> earns his twenty third profession win on TOUR. <a href=”https://t.co/OTsmbXMDtO”>pic.twitter.com/OTsmbXMDtO</a>
More than the ranking, it was realizing how far he had come with a lot help behind the scenes that made his voice barely choke with emotion.
“This event final 12 months was the beginning of me making an attempt to construct myself again up up to now,” McIlroy mentioned. “I had a very tough Ryder Cup. I feel I used to be outdoors the highest 10 within the world — it isn’t a place that I’m used to being in.”
McIlroy went 1-3 in a Ryder Cup loss. He was outdoors the highest 10 for 15 consecutive weeks, the longest stretch of his profession since first attending to No. 1 a decade in the past. For a participant of his caliber, that made him really feel farther behind than he actually was.
“I feel simply the regular climb again as much as the summit of world golf and what it takes,” he mentioned. “And it isn’t simply me, it is everybody that is part of my workforce. I simply take into consideration everybody that is made a distinction in my life, not over the past 12 months, however ever.”
Inside the ropes, it was classic McIlroy.
Tied with Kitayama with 5 holes to go at Congaree, McIlroy ran off three straight birdies to grab management. The pivotal run started with a 5-iron from 227 yards to fifteen toes on the par-3 14th, solely the fifth birdie on the outlet within the ultimate spherical.
“I feel that the birdie on 14 was actually … that is what separated … the birdie on 14 was large,” McIlroy mentioned. That was adopted by one other key moment on the 348-yard fifteenth gap, the place he bought up-and-down for birdie and Kitayama three-putted for par from 40 toes.
McIlroy adopted with a 20-foot birdie putt on the sixteenth.
McIlroy, who completed at 17-under 267, gained for the twenty third time on the PGA Tour and thirty first time worldwide.
A person on a mission.<br><br>3 straight birdies for <a href=”(*1*) leads by 3 with 2 to play <a href=”https://twitter.com/CJCupSC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CJCUPSC</a>. <a href=”https://t.co/Nr1V8oRufV”>pic.twitter.com/Nr1V8oRufV</a>
It was his ninth time reaching No. 1 within the world, behind solely Tiger Woods and Greg Norman (each 11) in attending to the highest of the ranking probably the most instances.
This felt like a very long time coming.
He gained the CJ Cup for the second straight time. The South Korea-based event was held in Las Vegas final 12 months, when McIlroy was No. 14 within the world.
So started his climb again to No. 1, with victories within the Canadian Open and the Tour Championship to seize the FedEx Cup, and with assist from Scottie Scheffler cooling from his torrid stretch by the Masters.
“I’ve labored so onerous over the past 12 months to get again to this place,” McIlroy mentioned. “I really feel like I’m having fun with the sport as a lot as I ever have. I performed with that pleasure and it is positively confirmed over these previous couple of months.
McIlroy was No. 1 when golf shut down for 3 months at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he misplaced the ranking to Jon Rahm when the Spaniard gained the Memorial in the midst of July in 2020.
Scheffler completed in the midst of the pack at Congaree, which means McIlroy might have been runner-up and nonetheless reclaimed the No. 1 ranking. He needed the trophy, and it was more durable work than he imagined.
McIlroy was staked to a one-shot lead going into the ultimate spherical and by no means trailed, although he did not have it simple till he walked towards the 18th inexperienced, and even that made him sweat. He had a two-shot lead and gunned his 40-foot putt some 8 toes by, whereas Kitayama had a 20-footer for birdie. They each missed.
He wound up with 69 to tie for fourth.
The actual menace was Kitayama, 3 times a winner whereas enjoying in Asia and Europe. The 29-year-old Californian overcame an early two-shot deficit and was tied for the lead till McIlroy took over with large putts and he could not reply.
Kitayama performed bogey-free and closed with a 67 for his third runner-up since becoming a member of the PGA Tour final 12 months, behind McIlroy, Xander Schauffele in Scotland and Rahm in Mexico. He made $1,134,000 US.
“That’s a tricky group of fellows to beat,” Kitayama mentioned. “I simply need to hold bettering.”
Okay.H. Lee had a 68 and completed third, with Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood (65) one other shot behind.
Canada’s Corey Conners completed tied for twenty third at 6-under, whereas compatriot Adam Hadwin completed tied for forty ninth.
McIlroy has three wins this 12 months, closing with a 62 within the Canadian Open to outlast Tony Finau and Justin Thomas, a 66 within the Tour Championship to beat Scheffler, and a 67 at Congaree with two closing bogeys, simply sufficient to rejoice two large moments.
Another trophy and, lastly, one other journey to the highest of golf.