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Rory McIlroy has successfully defended his CJ Cup title – and, in doing so, has returned to world No.1

The Northern Irishman carded a final round of 67 at Congaree to finish on 17-under-par, one shot ahead of Kurt Kitayama.

It gave the four-time major champion his 23rd PGA Tour victory and his third of 2022. Much more significantly, however, it saw him supplant Scottie Scheffler at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking and return to the top of the pile for the ninth time in his career.

“If someone had told me on the Friday night of the Valero Texas Open [in April] when I missed the cut that I would be world No.1 by October, I would have asked them what they were smoking,” said McIlroy.

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“It’s just been a wild six months. I figured a few things out with my game and I’ve just been on a really good run.”

McIlroy, who was top of the standings when COVID struck and forced the PGA Tour into a temporary hiatus, was ranked ninth on the OWGR after missing the cut at the Valero Texas Open.

However, a subsequent blistering run of form – he has finished in the top-10 in 12 of his last 15 events, winning three times – has seen him regain the top spot for the first time since July 2020.

“Everything sort of feels like it has come together for me,” he added. “Today was just a continuation of how I felt like I’ve been playing over these last few months. Now it’s all about going forward and trying to just keep this going.

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“This tournament last year was the start of me trying to build myself back up to this point. I had a really rough Ryder Cup. I’ve talked about that at length. I think I was outside the top-10 in the world. It’s not a position that I’m used to being in.

“I struggled through COVID. Coming out the back of COVID, sort of struggled a little bit, too. It’s been a couple years since I’ve been world No. 1.

“It felt far away and I am surprised that over the last six months I’ve played as well as I have to get back to this spot.”

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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