Rory McIlroy adamant he is the best player in the world ahead of PGA Tour return

Ryder Cup: Commentator says Rory McIlroy has been ‘scapegoat’

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Former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy has revealed that he feels he is ‘the best player in the world’ ahead of his return to the PGA Tour this week, as he makes the trip to Las Vegas to the CJ Cup.

His outing this Thursday will be his first since his emotional final day at the Ryder Cup, where he broke down in tears following Europe’s devastating defeat to the Americans at Whistling Straits.

Whilst showcasing himself as one of the world’s best throughout the last decade, the Northern Irishman has endured a somewhat inconsistent past 18 months which recently saw him drop out of the world’s top 15 for the first time since 2009.

Despite a tricky year and a half the four-time major champion still believes that when playing his best, he is the number one player in the world.

McIlroy commented: “I think when I play my best, I’m the best player in the world.I haven’t played like that for a while, though, but I don’t feel like I need to go that far back to whenever the pandemic hit, when I was the No 1 player in the world. 

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“I don’t have to look that far back to see my name at the top of the rankings. Obviously the last 18 months haven’t been what I’ve wanted them to be, but if you keep it in perspective, I’m not that far away.”

The 32-year-old – who has just one win in just under two years – believes the competition he faces gets tougher and tougher each year, and that there is now a fine balance between keeping up with the high standard, whilst still getting better yourself.

He added: “And there’s a ton of great players now that play obviously really, really good golf.

“It’s not the position I want to be in, but at the same time, there are so many other guys that are trying to do the same thing as I’m doing and I realise the competition gets tougher each and every year. You just have to try to not just keep up with that, but try to become better.”

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Ahead of the event in Vegas, McIlroy also addressed Europe’s damning Ryder Cup loss to the Americans in Wisconsin last month, insisting it was no fault of captain Padraig Harrington.

The Northern Irishman said: “From the whole process and being obviously involved and in the team room, there’s not much more Padraig could have done.

“I said at the start, even before the week, the captains, they set the tone and they maybe create a little bit of the culture that week, but at the end of the day it’s us.

“It’s the players that are out there hitting the shots and trying to hole the putts, and Europe didn’t hit the shots or hole the putts.”

Like many of Europe’s players, McIlroy struggled across the three days and secured just one point for his team, which came in his final session singles win over Olympic champion Xander Schauffele.

As a result, he went on to reveal that as soon as the hosts found their momentum early on, it was difficult to stop.

McIlroy added: “When you look back on it, America just holed so many more putts than we did and got momentum early. They started matches so quick and they got the crowd on their side, they get momentum and when you’re the away side and trying to fight back from that, 

“It’s very difficult. I certainly couldn’t sit here and criticise anything that Padraig did. it was on the players to play better golf and hole putts and we didn’t do that.”

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