Ryder Cup: Commentator says Rory McIlroy has been ‘scapegoat’
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Rory McIlroy has joined a select group of players in winning 20 PGA Tour titles, after he secured victory at the CJ Cup in Las Vegas by one shot ahead of 2021 Open champion Collin Morikawa. It was McIlroy’s first outing since Europe’s dismal Ryder Cup showing at Whistling Straits last month, which forced the Northern Irishman into tears following his Sunday singles match against Xander Schauffele.
However, any sort of Ryder Cup disappointment was soon gone in Vegas, as the four-time major winner showed just why he has been one of golf’s dominant forces across the last decade, by carding an impressive 25-under for the event to take home the trophy.
McIlroy began the final round two shots behind day three leader Rickie Fowler, but looked to start quickly and get his name on the top of the leaderboard as he opened with two birdies in his first three holes.
Despite then dropping a shot at the fourth with his first bogey since round one, the Northern Irishman got himself back on the birdie trail with one at the par five sixth and par four eighth to leave him three-under for the day at the turn.
Fowler – who was chasing his first win in over two and a half years – had his two shot deficit wiped out following the opening nine holes, as despite picking up three birdies at one, four and nine disrupted his card with a frustrating double bogey seven at the sixth.
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Meanwhile, further back in the pack Morikawa was making a remarkable move of his own, as the 24-year-old picked up an impressive seven birdies in his opening nine holes to get himself into a tie for the lead as he headed to the tenth tee.
Despite three of the field’s biggest names battling it out at the top it was McIlroy who went on to prevail following a nervy back nine from the leading trio.
Fowler saw himself fall away, as he would play the back nine in level par thanks to a bogey at 10 and a birdie at 14, whilst Morikawa’s birdie frenzy slowly dried up as he picked just one on the back nine, accompanied with an eagle 18 meaning he would go on to miss out by a shot.
As a result McIlroy matched the Open champion’s back nine with a birdie and an eagle, to ensure he came away with a 20th victory, an achievement he knew was just around the corner.
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The Northern Irishman commented: “To get to 20 wins 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 kept doing the right things that eventually I’d get there. To get a win, it’s great, it feels really good.”
McIlroy – by his high standards – has endured a fairly average last 18 months, as his recent run on Tour saw him slip out of the world’s top 15 for the first time since 2009.
However, after describing himself as ‘the best player in the world’ at the beginning of the week, the Northern Irishman admitted all he has to do is be himself to win golf tournaments.
“This is what I need to do. I need to play golf, I need to simplify it. I need to just be me. I think for the last few months I was maybe trying to be someone else to try and get better.
“I realised that being me is enough, and being me I can do things like this.”
The 32-year-old also confirmed that the disappointment and hurt from last month’s Ryder Cup loss played a huge role in motivating him to get back to his best at The Summit Club.
He told the PGA Tour immediately after his win: “It [Ryder Cup loss] was huge. It really was. I was really disappointed with how I played. There was a lot of reflection in the last couple of weeks.
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