LONDON. — Rory McIlroy admitted his return to the top of the world golf rankings came quicker than expected after he secured world No. 1 spot with a successful title defence at the CJ Cup.
McIlroy registered a 23rd PGA Tour victory and third of the year with a one-shot win over Kurt Kitayama at Congaree Golf Club, with the Northern Irishman posting a four-under 67 despite finishing his final round with back-to-back bogeys.
The four-time major champion’s success follows his RBC Canadian Open win June and a history-making third FedExCup victory at the Tour Championship in August, with McIlroy’s latest title also seeing him leapfrog Scottie Scheffler to become world No. 1 for the ninth time.
“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 because I would not have believed them,” McIlroy admitted after his victory.
“Yeah, 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.
“Everything sort of feels like it’s came together for me and 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.
“It’s amazing. It’s a lot to process right now just with everything, but really proud of myself with how I handled this week knowing what was at stake and really just how I’ve played over these last few months.”
McIlroy’s return to world No. 1 for the first time since 2020 caps a stellar year where he also posted top-eight finishes in all four majors, with the 33-year-old proud of his progress over the past 12 months.
“This tournament last year was the start of me trying to build myself back up to this point,” added McIlroy, who was world No 14 when he won the CJ Cup in 2021. “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 and it’s not a position that I’m used to being in.
“I think just the steady climb back up to the summit of world golf and what it takes, it’s not just me, it’s everyone that’s a part of my team. It’s not a solo effort.
“Just thinking over that last 12 months, there’s a lot of people that deserve a lot of the plaudits and I’m the one that sits up here and takes them, but there’s a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes that people don’t know about. — Sky Sports
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