Rory McIlroy returns to world number one with a successful defense of the CJ Cup By edging out a high-quality field at Congaree,

he earned his third PGA Tour victory in four months and made official what has been obvious for some time, namely that no one is currently playing at his level.

If there was a legitimate counterargument in 2022, it was found in his ability to close on Sundays, not least in the majors. Still, there was little trace of fallibility.

He started his final round with a clear lead and finished at even par at 17 under after adding a 67 to his earlier rounds of 66, 67, and 67.

'It means a lot. I worked hard to get back to this place and enjoy the game like I never did before. The past 12 months have shown joy.

It feels amazing (to be back at No. 1). Despite opening his fourth round with birdies at two, four, and six, McIlroy faced serious trouble on his way to the fairway.

First, it was from Jon Rahm, who was level with McIlroy at 15 under when the Northern Irishman bogeyed eight, and then from his playing partner Kurt Kitayama,

McIlroy faltered briefly with a bogey on the 17th after driving into a bunker, cutting his lead to two, and eventually carded another, although a bogey was enough to win.