Golfer Rory McIlroy returned to the top of the world rankings for the first time in more than two years by winning CJ Cup title in South Carolina on Sunday.
The six-time Team Europe player claimed a one-shot victory over American Kurt Kitayama thanks to a four under par final round 67 at Congaree Golf Club. Although currently qualifying in the third automatic spot on the European Points List, McIlroy does bolster his standing on the World Points List as he leapfrogged Shane Lowry in pole position on 80.62 points.
“I’m really proud of myself,” McIlroy said after his 23rd PGA TOUR win.
“It means a lot. I’ve worked so hard over the past 12 months to get myself back to this place. I feel like I’m enjoying this game as much as I ever have. I absolutely love the game of golf and when I go out there and play with that joy, it has definitely showed over these past 12 months. It feels awesome. It’s a big achievement.”
“The journey of trying to get the best out of myself, that’s the satisfying thing. I never feel like I’ve figured this game out, I don’t think I ever will figure it out, but every day I wake up trying to get closer, he said.
There were also strong performances from two-time Ryder Cup players Tommy Fleetwood and Jon Rahm who both finished in a tie for fourth in South Carolina. The English duo of Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick, who have both also previously represented Team Europe, finished in a tie for 13th.
Meanwhile, DP World Tour rookie Yannik Paul climbed an impressive 17 places on the European Points List after his maiden DP World Tour victory at the Mallorca Golf Open.
The dramatic win, in which Paul holed a clutch birdie putt at the last hole to claim victory, sees the German on the cusp of an automatic qualification spot with 579.79 points.
Paul said: “I’m speechless, honestly, I’m just so happy. My girlfriend and I, we worked a lot on my mental side and we were dreaming that she would be here for my first win, and she’s here now, it’s unbelievable. I couldn’t have dreamt of a better ending so I’m over the moon.”
As it stands Rahm (850.00 points), Shane Lowry (835.00 points) and Rory McIlroy (721.50 points) would claim the three automatic qualifying spots on the European Points List, with Robert MacIntyre (32.99 points), Adrian Otaegui (27.15 points) and Danny Willett (25.80 points) currently sitting in the top three positions on the World Points List.
The 2023 Ryder Cup will take place between Sept. 25 – Oct. 1 at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, Rome, Italy.