McIlroy's Scorching Victory in The Desert

McIlroy's Scorching Victory in The Desert

PGA TOUR

THE CJ CUP

McIlroy's Scorching Victory in The Desert

Rory McIlroy made a hot start to the new PGA Tour season winning the CJ CUP in Las Vegas. It was the 20th PGA Tour victory for the 32-year-old Northern Irishman. He becomes the 39th player to reach that mark in PGA Tour history.

McIlroy, who was making his first start of the 2021/22 season, outlasted British Open champion Collin Morikawa by one shot. Australia’s Adam Scott finished four shots behind McIlroy in a tie for fifth place.

McIlroy bounced back to his best golf after his recent disappointing Ryder Cup performance at Whistling Straits. The world No. 14 posted a remarkable 10-under 62 on Saturday to vault into contention and sit in outright second place after 54 holes, two shots behind tournament leader Rickie Fowler.

The final day saw a jam-packed leaderboard vying for the win at the elite 78-man invitational field with 10 players within two shots of lead midway through the final round. McIlroy, who covered the front nine on Sunday in 3-under, made his move early on the back nine and hit the lead at 23-under with a two-putt birdie at the short par 4, 12th hole. He then staked a three-shot lead after he made an eagle at the par 5, 14th hole when he holed his 35-foot putt from off the green. Moments later, Morikawa closed the margin to one shot with an eagle at the final hole. McIlroy closed out his round with four consecutive pars to maintain his one-shot advantage to victory.

McIlroy produced rounds of 68, 67, 62 and 66 at The Summit Club to reach 25-under. World No. 3 Morikawa fired a final round 10-under 62 to finish runner-up at 24-under. The 24-year-old American gained eight birdies at his opening 11 holes.

Fowler and fellow American Keith Mitchell finished at 22-under and in a share of third place. Fowler, aged 32, was searching for his first win since February 2019 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Fowler, who had plummeted to world No. 128, produced just one top 10 result at his previous 18 starts. The five-time PGA Tour winner held the 54-hole lead for the first time in 987 days after he set the event’s 54-hole scoring record of 195. Looking to become the first sponsor exemption to win on the PGA Tour since Martin Laird at the 2020 Shriners Children’s Open, Fowler closed with a final round 1-under 71. Mitchell, aged 29, set the 36-hole event scoring record with opening rounds of 62 and 64 for a 126 total. His five-shot lead after 36 holes was the largest in the event’s history. Mitchell carded a final round 5-under 67.

American’s Talor Gooch, Sam Burns, Aaron Wise joined Queensland’s Scott at 21-under and in a share of fifth place. Gooch fired a stunning 10-under 62 on Sunday, which included holing out for an eagle at the 72nd hole with a wedge from 94 yards.

South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel was the only player to finish the tournament over par. The former Masters champion ended the week at 7-over.

The PGA Tour heads to Japan for next week’s ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP staged at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, Chiba. America’s Patrick Cantlay is the defending champion.

Final Scores
THE CJ CUP
1. Rory McIlroy -25
2. Collin Morikawa -24
T3. Keith Mitchell -22
T3. Rickie Fowler -22
T5. Talor Gooch -21
T5. Sam Burns -21
T5. Aaron Wise -21
T5. Adam Scott -21

Other Australians
T9. Cameron Smith -20
T38. Marc Leishman -15
T38. Matt Jones -15
T64. Cam Davis -8
T64. Jason Day -8

 

Photo credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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