Rory McIlroy reclaims world number one ranking with win at the CJ Cup

By Sports Desk October 23, 2022

Rory McIlroy reclaimed the world number one ranking after his first win of the new season and the 23rd of his PGA Tour career, securing the CJ Cup with a score of 17 under par.

McIlroy took the outright lead on the 14th hole with his fifth birdie of the day and built a tournament-winning lead with two more birdies on the next two holes on his way to a Sunday 67. 

Those extra insurance birdies ended up coming in handy after the Northern Irishman bogeyed the final two holes, but Kurt Kitayama could not birdie the last to force a playoff.

He entered the final round leading by one stroke, and by finishing the same way, he leapfrogged Scottie Scheffler to the top of the world rankings as the American finished tied for 45th at one under.

Speaking to NBC after stepping off the final green, McIlroy spoke about his love for the game and his journey back to the top.

"It feels great," he said. "It feels great to go out there with the lead, shoot a great score, play really well and get the win. 

"It's an awesome way to start the season, I guess, and a continuation of how I feel I've been playing the past few months.

"[Becoming world number one] 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 play with that joy – it's definitely shown over the past few months. It feels awesome, I'm looking forward to celebrating with my team."

Kitayama finished alone in second at 16 under, with Lee Kyoung-hoon the only player in third at 15 under.

Tommy Fleetwood shot Sunday's equal second-best score with a 65 to jump up into a tie for fourth at 14 under with Jon Rahm.

Aaron Wise finished alone in sixth at 12 under and an all-American group headlined by Sam Burns rounded out the top-10, tied for seventh at 11 under.

The best fourth-round score came from Taylor Montgomery, who was three strokes better than the field on the last trip around Congaree Golf Cup with his nine-under 62 – finishing his tournament at nine under after entering the round at even par.

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    In-form Jon Rahm surged into contention at the Farmers Insurance Open on Moving Day at Torrey Pines but Sam Ryder remains two shots clear ahead of the final round.

    The Spaniard, who started the day at four-under overall, carded an impressive six-under-par 66 on Friday to fly up the leaderboard to 10 under and be within two strokes of Ryder (12 under).

    Ryder had held a three-stroke advantage at the halfway point and maintained his lead despite an even round that included one birdie, where he made a great save after hitting the cart path, and one bogey as the event switched to the South Course for the final two days.

    World number three Rahm seemed to relish the conditions in an ominous sign ahead of the final round, with the second-best round of the day underlining his surge, that included a run of three straight birdies before an eagle on the ninth.

    Rahm moved into outright second with the eagle, with an excellent approach on to the green followed by an 11-foot putt. The 28-year-old claimed his first PGA Tour victory in 2017 at Torrey Pines.

    Tony Finau enjoyed the best round of the day, carding an eight-under-par 64 to move into outright third at eight-under overall.

    Finau, who was the only player to go bogey-free, had six birdies plus an eagle on the par-four first hole when he holed out from 138 yards on his approach.

    A group of four players are tied for fourth at seven-under overall, in Sungjae Im, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa and Sahith Theegala.

  • McIlroy shakes off rust as Dubai Desert Classic gets set for Monday finish McIlroy shakes off rust as Dubai Desert Classic gets set for Monday finish

    Rory McIlroy put himself firmly in the mix at the Dubai Desert Classic after a flourish that disguised the "rusty" golf he feared would put him way down the leaderboard.

    The lucrative DP World Tour event was again hit by wet weather on Friday, after a six-hour delay on Thursday, and with McIlroy among many in the field yet to begin the second round, organisers decided it would be extended to finish on Monday rather than Sunday.

    McIlroy got his work for the day done in the morning at Emirates Golf Club, polishing off an opening round he left in a promising place overnight, having reached two under through 15 holes and given himself a short-range putt at the next that he elected to leave for Friday.

    The world number one made that putt, then holed out from 107 yards for eagle at the eighth hole, his 17th, and finished with another birdie to complete a six-under 66 for what was a share of the lead at the time.

    McIlroy summed up his performance on Thursday as "honestly not very good", so he was thankful to shoot such a low score.

    "I struggled out there most of yesterday," McIlroy said. "I thought did I well to be under par by the end of the day. I fought back after some very sloppy rusty golf over the first 14 holes.

    "And then today I came out and I don't really know if anything clicked because I don't think I hit enough shots to know. But it was definitely needed. I would have been happy with anything around 70 the way I played, and then to come in and shoot 66 is quite the bonus."

    American Patrick Reed, involved in a pre-tournament spat with McIlroy and alleged to have thrown a tee at his rival, joined the Northern Irishman on six under through the opening 18 holes thanks to a 15-foot eagle putt at the last.

    Reed, who missed the cut in Abu Dhabi last week, said: "I'm obviously really happy with the way I played. I felt like last week wasn't really a reflection of all the hard work I've been doing in the off-season.

    "To come out this week and feel like I was able to put everything together and to have my mind right on game planning and course management was definitely a plus. I feel like I had full control of the golf ball and made a couple of putts."

    Reed and McIlroy will play their second rounds on Saturday, but others began their second circuits before darkness brought an end to Friday's play.

    The first-round joint lead was snatched away from Reed and McIlroy by Swedish amateur Ludvig Aberg and Englishman Ian Poulter, who both carded seven-under 65s.

    Aberg then stumbled in the early stages of his second round, slipping back to five under through seven holes, but Poulter had a share of the overnight lead on eight under after making birdie at the third, the last hole he completed.

    Alongside Poulter was fellow English veteran Richard Bland, who followed a 67 by picking up three shots in the opening four holes of his second round.

    Spain's Angel Hidalgo held third place on seven under after he followed a 66 with an early birdie in round two, while South African Louis de Jager joined McIlroy and Reed in a share of fourth position.

  • Rivals McIlroy and Reed share the lead in Dubai at the close of delayed round one Rivals McIlroy and Reed share the lead in Dubai at the close of delayed round one

    Rory McIlroy was tied with rival Patrick Reed for the lead after the delayed conclusion to round one of the Dubai Desert Classic, though the Northern Irishman was not entirely satisfied with his performance.

    The build-up to the tournament has been dominated by a spat between world number one McIlroy and LIV Golf defector Reed.

    American Reed labelled McIlroy an "immature little child" for blanking him at the practice range and was also alleged to have thrown a tee at McIlroy.

    McIlroy said Reed's lawyer served him with court papers on Christmas Eve, although Reed has said he was not behind the subpoena, with the case concerned being one brought by American attorney Larry Klayman relating to divisions between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.

    A strong start from both players on a rain-delayed day one raised the possibility of an intriguing pairing over the weekend.

    And the chances of that happening were increased with McIlroy – who started on the back nine – closing birdie, eagle, birdie to finish his first round at six under par.

    Reed matched that score thanks to a 15-foot eagle at the last.

    Asked for his thoughts about how he played in round one, McIlroy said: "Honestly, not very good. I struggled out there most of yesterday. I thought I did well to be under par by the end of the day. I fought back after some very sloppy rusty golf over the first sort of 14 holes.

    "And then today I came out and I don't really know if anything clicked because I don't think I hit enough shots to know, but it was definitely needed.

    "I would have been happy with anything around 70 the way I played, and then to come in and shoot 66 is quite the bonus."

    The highlight for McIlroy was holing out from 114 yards out of the sand at the eighth (his 17th).

    "You know, I wouldn't say I'm the best fairway bunker player in the world. The desert is a little nicer, it's a little more packed down, so you get some better lies," he said.

    "All I was thinking about was catching it clean. My tendency out of those lies is to hit it a little bit heavy. As soon as I struck it – went down the grip a little bit just to make sure of the strike – I knew it came out really nicely and it was right down the pin.

    "Again, anything inside of 20 feet, I would have been happy with, so that was certainly a bonus."

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