Rory McIlroy is ready to regain world number 1 after more than two years. The Northern Irishman will enter the last round of the CJ Cup on Sunday with a one-shot advantage, looking ready not only to defend the PGA Tour title, but also to climb the top which many believe is his right position.
On 13-under, the Northern Irishman is in place. McIlroy started the penultimate day in South Carolina three points behind fellow Ryder Cup player Jon Rahm, but went on to stage a typical display of ball shots to hit a four under 67. This would clearly mean so. so much for the 33 year old.
“Reaching number 1 in the world in whatever you do is incredible recognition and something you should be proud of,” said McIlroy, who dropped to 16th on the leaderboard in August 2021. “I have the opportunity to do it this week and I’m proud to have at least given myself this chance. “
A win in South Carolina – which would be his third win of the year – would ensure McIlroy bypasses American Scott Scheffler, but even finishing second would see him make the leap.
To unseat Scheffler, McIlroy would have to win at Congaree Golf Club and for Scheffler to finish worse than a solo draw for second place, or for McIlroy to finish second and the Masters champion comes out of the top 34 in the event with 15 of the world top 20. 54 holes, Scheffler is tied for 47th place at the same level after a double out of 74.
This would be McIlroy’s ninth bout as number 1. “I’m just thinking of winning here tomorrow,” he said. “This takes care of most things.”
Regardless of the result at Congaree Golf Club, McIlroy looks set to win his first merit title in seven years on the DP World Tour – formerly the European Tour – though New Zealander Ryan Fox may still be a factor in that race.
Grant Fox’s son – the legendary former All Blacks opener – could put himself in a position to review McIlroy with his second title this month, following the success of Dunhill Links which saw the 35-year-old rise to the top of the world 25. .
Fox is in 16-under at the Mallorca Open after a 65 to stay on 16-under and in a tie for the lead by entering the final round with German Yannik Paul. Two behind Palma are Marcus Armitage and Dale Whitnell.
“Obviously I’d like to get closer to Rory and give him a little run, but it would be nice to get into Dubai. [the final event of the season] knowing I have it in my hands – if I win that event I could probably win the leaderboard. It’s certainly not a position I expected to be in at the beginning of the year.
“Regardless, I’m pretty happy to be where I am and tomorrow I’ll go out and do what I’ve been doing all year, I’ll try to beat the golf course and see what happens.”