RORY McILROY fought back tears as he returned to the top of golfâs world rankings with a successful defence of the CJ Cup.
The Northern Irishmanâs one-shot victory in South Carolina saw him become world Noâ1 again for the first time since July 2020.
He stormed past Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who finished down the field in a share of 45th place.
Former world Noâ1s Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth were also among the also-rans.
McIlroy got choked up as he revealed how much it meant to him to take top spot once more. He said: âGetting back to Noâ1 means a lot.
âI have worked so hard to get myself back to this place.
âTo go out with the lead and play some great golf to get the win feels awesome.
âI love the game of golf and I think that joy has shone through in the way Iâve played this year.â
McIlroy, 33, was level with fast-improving American Kurt Kitayama on 16 under par with five holes to play.
But he showed his class with a stunning hat-trick of birdies from the 14th.
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That meant he could afford bogeys on 17 and 18 as he eased to a final round of 67 to finish on 17 under.
While Kitayama missed a 25-footer for birdie on the 18th that would have forced a play-off.
McIlroy, who claimed his third win of 2022, added: âThe birdie on the difficult 14th was the turning point for me. I managed to separate myself after that.
âItâs a big achievement and I really want to enjoy this. I canât wait to celebrate with my team.â
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