Highlights from Rory McIlroy’s final round at the CJ Cup in 2021, where the four-time major champion earned a one-shot victory and a 20th PGA Tour title.
What a difference a year makes.
When the CJ Cup took place last October, Rory McIlroy was languishing outside the world top 10, Scottie Scheffler still hadn’t won on the PGA Tour and there was little talk of a possible breakaway rival circuit disrupting the sport.
Move forward 12 months and two of the last four CJ Cup winners – Brooks Koepka and Jason Kokrak – are ineligible to leave as they joined LIV Golf, while Scheffler arrives with his position at the top of the world rankings under threat by a reborn McIlroy.
A look at how Scottie Scheffler made a dominating start to 2022 to rise to the top of the world rankings
That event is where McIlroy won his historic 20th PGA Tour title in 2021, beating two-time major champion Collin Morikawa by a single blow in Las Vegas, in what had been his first start since participating in a record loss at the Ryder Cup for the team. Europe at Whistling Sound.
McIlroy had been reduced to tears in that Ryder Cup defeat, which followed more than a year of inconsistency and swing struggles, but the then world No. 14 remained adamant ahead of his appearance at the Summit Club: “When I’m playing my best, I’m the best player in the world.”
The Northern Irishman demonstrated why he has spent 106 weeks so far as world No. Cup helped him enjoy a winning start. in season.
“I was maybe trying to be someone else to try to better myself and I kind of realized that being me was enough and being me I could do things like that,” McIlroy said. “It’s really good, some validation of what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks and it keeps me going.”
Rory McIlroy reflected on securing his 20th PGA Tour title with an impressive one-shot win at the CJ Cup last October
McIlroy’s victory moved him back into the top 10, having dropped to his lowest world ranking in 12 years a few months earlier. His trajectory has been on the rise ever since and he is aiming for a return to the top spot in the men’s game for the first time since the Covid-19 summer of 2020.
Although top-13 finishes in the first four world starts of the year were followed by a frustrating week in a weather-affected Players Championship and a missed cut at the Valero Texas Open, McIlroy kicked off his 2022 with a career-best finish at the Masters. .
A bunker hole on the final hole capped a superb Sunday 64 and briefly gave him hope for the unlikely victory needed to complete the career Grand Slam, before Scheffler was awarded the green jacket, McIlroy’s second finishing first of the first eight. finished in all four majors this year.
McIlroy won his first title of the year in June with a successful title defense at the RBC Canadian Open, seeing him pass Greg Norman in the PGA Tour’s all-time winning standings in the same week as the tour backed by the Saudi-led Australian launched in London. .
Rory McIlroy appeared to dig at LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman after he surpassed his PGA Tour win tally at the RBC Canadian Open
“I got extra motivation from what’s happening across the pond,” McIlroy said after the win. “The guy running this Tour [Greg Norman] has 20 PGA Tour wins, I was tied with him and wanted to get one ahead of him. And I did. So that was really cool for me.”
Several stars quickly moved to LIV Golf, including Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, although McIlroy continued to speak out for the old golf ecosystem and provide unwavering support for the sport’s traditional circuits.
Phil Mickelson says divisive talk does golf no good and hopes the PGA Tour and LIV Golf can come together for the benefit of the game.
LIV Golf continued to dominate the conversation ahead of the 150th Open at St Andrews, where McIlroy felt he had squandered an opportunity for a first major title since 2014 when he failed to convert a share of the lead 54 holes in victory.
McIlroy said he was ‘beaten by a better player’ after having to settle for a third-place finish, losing to LIV Golf-bound Cameron Smith to create PGA Tour history a month later on the Tour Championship to become the top three. -time FedExCup winner.
Rory McIlroy said he will have to “keep plugging in” as his wait for a fifth major continues after giving up his lead on the final day of the Open.
The 33-year-old entered the week seventh in the season standings and six shots behind Scheffler, a four-time winner in 2022, with McIlroy falling further behind and seeing his hopes seemingly over after playing his first two holes in four. more.
McIlroy battled to post a straight 67 before following a third-round 63 with a closing 66, seeing him overturn a six-stroke deficit on the final day to beat Scheffler by one stroke, with the four-time major champion sending a clear message. to LIV Golf defectors after his victory.
Rory McIlroy says it was great to end the season on a high and become the first person to win the FedEx Cup three times.
“I believe in the game of golf,” said during his victory presentation. “I believe in this particular Tour. I believe in the players on this Tour. It’s the best place in the world to play golf, bar none, and I’ve played all over the world.”
McIlroy maintained his powerful stance towards members of LIV Golf when he played in the BMW PGA Championship, where he admitted it would be “tough to stomach” to see one of the rival circuit members win ahead of him in finishing tied for second behind Ryder Cup teammate Shane Lowry. .
Rory McIlroy said he hated what LIV Golf was doing to the game and added that some of Wentworth’s players would be difficult to support.
Top-four finishes in his next two starts at the DS Automobiles Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship extended McIlroy’s advantage over Matt Fitzpatrick in the DP World Tour standings, bolstering his hopes of winning. the Harry Vardon trophy for the fourth time.
McIlroy’s attention now returns to the PGA Tour and his first start on American soil since that Tour Championship success, where he has the chance to successfully defend a title for the second time this season.
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October 20, 2022, 8:00 p.m.
There’s also the added incentive of overtaking Scheffler at the top of the world rankings, with a solo second or better finish potentially enough this week to end the Masters champions’ six-month tenure as world No. 1.
Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina hosts the strongest field of the 2022-23 PGA Tour season to date, with 15 of the world’s top 20 slated to start, while it wouldn’t be surprising to see McIlroy finish the week with a third win in an already impressive 2022.
Watch the CJ Cup all week long live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins Thursday from 8 p.m. on Sky Sports Golf.