Rory McIlroy says he’s capable of being the best player in the world after he won his 20th PGA Tour title at the CJ Cup on Sunday.
The Northern Irishman carded a final-round six-under-par 66 to finish a shot ahead of two-time major winner Collin Morikawa at the Summit Club in Las Vegas and win $1.75 million from a total purse of $9.75 million.
In doing so McIlroy became the 39th player to win at least 20 times on the PGA Tour. It’s also his fifth straight season with at least one win.
“I know that when I do the things that I do well, this is what I’m capable of. I’m capable of winning a lot of events on the PGA Tour and being the best player in the world,” said McIlroy.
The Northern Irishman will now earn lifetime membership on the PGA Tour – once he’s played 15 seasons which will be at the start of the 2023-24 season – something he called “pretty significant.”
“Not having to worry about minimums on Tour and being able to really set a schedule, and especially at that point when kids will be getting into school age and maybe wanting to spend a little bit more time at home, that’s important,” said McIlroy – who moved back into the top 10 of golf’s world rankings with the win.
“When you look to the bigger things in life, getting to that level, I can pick and choose where I play nowadays anyway, but that makes it even better and less of a burden.”
McIlroy’s victory comes in the 32-year-old’s first appearance since he gave an emotional interview immediately after finishing his final round during Europe’s historic loss to the US in the 2020 Ryder Cup.
McIlroy was in tears after beating Xander Schauffele in their singles match, saying he “should have done more.”
“It is by far the best experience in golf, and I hope the boys and girls watching this today will aspire to play in this event, or the Solheim Cup, because there’s nothing better than being a part of a team, especially with the bond that we have in Europe,” an emotional McIlroy said.
“No matter what happens after this, I’m proud of every one of our players this week. I’m proud of our captain, our vice-captains, and I just wish I could have done a little more for the team. It’s been a tough week.”
But he rebounded in style over the weekend.
He trailed by nine shots after 36 holes, but hit a fabulous 62 in his third round on Saturday to move himself near the top of the leaderboard.
Starting the final round two shots behind Rickie Fowler, McIlroy made five birdies and an eagle to hold off Morikawa, who shot a 62 to put pressure on the Northern Irishman.
After a relatively disappointing 2021 season, McIlroy hopes his CJ Cup success is a sign of better things to come.
In pictures: The 2021 Ryder Cup
“I know that when I do the things that I do well, this is what I’m capable of. I’m capable of winning a lot of events on the PGA Tour and being the best player in the world,” McIlroy said.
“It’s just a matter of me getting back to playing golf my way,” said McIlroy. That starts with being creative and being visual and maybe not being as technical with it. To get to 20 wins out here is a big achievement.
“I didn’t know if it was going to be this week, but I knew if I just kept my head down and kept playing well and doing the right things, eventually I’d get there.
“I’ve been close to starting my season with a win before, I think I finished second or third like eight times, so to get a win, it’s great. It feels really good, some validation of what I’ve done the last few weeks and just keep moving forward … I still want to get back to that point where I’m knocking off three, four, five wins a year.”