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Rory McIlroy is starting his ninth spell as world No.1 following his successful CJ Cup defence.

The four-time major champion held off Kurt Kitayama to retain his title at Congaree Golf Club.

In doing so, he returned to the summit of the OWGR for the first time in over two years, deposing Scottie Scheffler, who has spent the last 30 weeks at the top.

• The stats behind Rory’s season

• TaylorMade unveils new Stealth UDI and DHY

Since missing the cut at the Valero Texas Open in April, McIlroy finished in the top-10 in 12 of his last 15 events, winning three times.

Key to the turnaround in his fortunes has been his hugely improved putting. The 33-year-old drained several big putts with his Taylormade Spider X Hydro Blast in the final round at Congaree and admitted afterwards that he feels he has turned a significant corner on the greens.

“Being able to fall back on your putting takes pressure off your iron play, it takes pressure off your short game, it takes pressure off your driving,” he said. “You know that if you can get it up there within ten feet, whether it’s for birdie or for par, it makes the rest of the game just that little bit easier.

“Last year was the first time ever I finished in the top-20 on tour in Strokes Gained:

Putting and a big part of it is the work that I’ve done with Fax [Brad Faxon] and [Bob] Rotella. Their input has really helped.”

Rory McIlroy – What’s in the bag

Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Driver; 9.0° (Ventus Black 6X)

Fairway woods: TaylorMade SIM2 3-Wood; 15.0° (Kai’li White 80TX); Stealth Plus 5-Wood; 19.0° (Ventus Black 9X)

Irons: TaylorMade Rors Proto Irons 3-9 (PX Rifle 7.0)

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind 3; 46° SB (PX Rifle 6.5), 54° HB (PX Rifle 6.5), 58° SB (PX Rifle 6.5)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Hydro Blast

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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