Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy shot a 67 in the final round of the CJ Cup in South Carolina on Sunday in Ridgeland, South Carolina, to defend his tournament title and return to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

McIlroy will officially return to No. 1 on Monday for the first time since July 18, 2020. He moved ahead of Scotty Scheffler, who he also defeated at the Tour Championship in September to win the FedEx Cup title.

“I’ve worked so hard over the last 12 months to get back to this spot,” McIlroy said. “I think I’m enjoying the game more than ever. I really enjoy the game of golf and I think when I go out there and play with that joy, it definitely shows over the last 12 months.”

McIlroy chipped away late with birdies on Nos. 12, 14, 15 and 16 at Congaree Golf Club, highlighted by a 13-foot birdie putt on the 14th and a 22-footer on the 16th. He bogeyed the final two holes but still finished at 17-under 267 to beat Kurt Kitayama by one stroke.

“We were about four all day and I think birdie on 14 was a real turning point for me,” McIlroy said. “It’s a really tough par 3. To make 2 there, I felt like I got at least a stroke and a half on the course.”

McIlroy also won the CJ Cup in 2021 when it was held at The Summit Club in Las Vegas.

The four-time major champion made seven birdies and three bogeys. Kitayama also shot a 67, but with four birdies and no bogeys on his card. He birdied his last six holes, avoiding a playoff with McIlroy or outright surpassing him.

“It was a battle,” Kitayama said. “I kind of came to this section, I tried to enter with a bunch of couples, as it seemed to me. Yes, it was tough, but Rory came out with three in a row and that was hard to compete with. “

South Korea’s KH Lee (68 on Sunday) finished third in the Under-15s. Spaniard John Rahm (69) tied with Englishman Tommy Fleetwood (65).

Taylor Montgomery fired a 62 for the day. An eagle and four birdies on the back nine helped him finish the day in 6-under 29. He tied for 13th on the 9th.

–Field-level media