Slump? What slump?
Rory McIlroy has silenced his doubters with a hard-fought victory in The CJ Cup in Las Vegas.
The 32-year-old closed with a six-under 66 at The Summit Club to win by one from Open champion Collin Morikawa and secure the 20th PGA Tour victory of his career.
In doing so, the four-time major champ has moved into a tie for 35th on the tour’s career wins list and has guaranteed himself future Lifetime Membership. That will activate at the end of the 2022-23 season, by which point he will have completed 15 years of participating on the PGA Tour.
"It's quite an achievement," said McIlroy, who led the field in putting and hit 31 of 36 greens in regulation in the final two rounds. "I still need a couple more years on tour to get that lifetime exemption, but at least I've got the wins. I was asked that question at the start of the week, and it is a pretty big carrot.
“I think to get to 20 wins out here is a big achievement. I didn't know if it was going to be this week but I knew if I just kept my head down and kept playing well and kept doing the right things, I'd eventually get there."
McIlroy has also bounced back into the world’s top-10, climbing to eighth. Only five players – Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh – are ahead of him on the career money list.
Perhaps most encouraging for his legion of fans, he beat a deep, major-quality field to win for the second time in 2021 and just weeks after he laboured to a 1-3-0 record in Europe’s Ryder Cup thumping.
“On the Saturday night of the Ryder Cup, I was done with golf,” he added. “I didn't want to see golf again until 2022.
“That Sunday singles match sparked a little bit of a flame again. You know, I think I maybe figured something out here, maybe play a few more times before the season's done.
“Yeah, so Saturday night of the Ryder Cup, I certainly wasn't going to be here and Sunday night at the Ryder Cup I thought, go to Vegas, go to CJ and try to build on this little bit of a breakthrough that I've had.”