Rory McIlroy returned to the top of the world rankings for the first time since 2020 after he defended his CJ Cup title in impressive style.
The 33-year-old secured a one-shot victory at the Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina, hitting a four-under 67 which included four birdes in five holes, finishing on 17 under, one ahead of American Kurt Kitayama.
This is the Northern Irishman’s 23rd career PGA TOUR victory and third of the year, alongside the RBC Canadian Open and the Tour Championship, which meant that he leapfrogged Scottie Scheffler as the world no. 1 golfer.
Speaking following his triumph, McIlroy described how much the victory and return to the top of the rankings meant for him.
“It means a lot. I’ve worked so hard over the last 12 months to get myself back to this place. I feel like I’m enjoying the game as much as I ever have.
“I absolutely love the game of golf. When I go out there and I play with that joy, it’s definitely shown over these last 12 months.
“It feels awesome. I’m looking forward to celebrating with my team tonight and the next couple of weeks because I think it’s a big achievement. I’m really proud of myself right now and I want to go and enjoy this.”
The four-time major winner held the one shot lead coming into the final day and knew that victory would see him return to the top of the rankings.
Birdies at the 14th, 15th and 16th provided McIlroy with a cushion over the his nearest rival Kitayama and he would come home to regain the title in comfortable fashion despite bogeying the final two holes and with Kitayama failing to birdie to extend the contest. KH Lee, Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood complete the top 5 standings of the CJ Cup.