McIlroy in world number one bid while Ryder Cup points on offer for Lowry and Power

Ronan MacNamara
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Rory McIlroy (Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy gets his 2023 PGA Tour season underway as he defends his CJ Cup title at Congaree Golf Club knowing a top-2 finish could see him reach world number one for the first time in over two years and for the ninth time. 

Shane Lowry and Seamus Power are also in the field as they look to secure some valuable Ryder Cup points in their quest to line out for Team Europe in Rome next year. 

In many ways it would be a fitting place for McIlroy to get back to the summit of world golf. Twelve months ago he was a blubbering mess in Wisconsin after getting humbled at the Ryder Cup, wondering where his game was going, having fallen as low as 16th in the world. 

However, he wiped away his tears, dumped Pete Cowen, and held off Collin Morikawa to win the CJ Cup in his first appearance back. 

McIlroy was 13th in the world at that point and it culminated in the start of his recovery journey. Returning to world number one would only add more excitement to a year he must be chomping at the bit to get going. 

A firm and fast Congaree awaits the 33-year-old meaning patience might be the crucial factor this week. As he hunts his 31st worldwide win it could prove to be his first in single digits under par. 

This is the first of two events to end the year for McIlroy who will look to emulate Henrik Stenson and win both the FedEx Cup and The Race to Dubai in the same season. 

“I’m feeling pretty good about my game. It’s been a busy stretch for me, played six of the last eight weeks or whatever it was. It was nice to take a couple of weeks off and be home. 

“Yeah, sort of continued the form that I showed through the Playoffs in Europe. Had a decent chance to win at Wentworth and then a couple of pretty high finishes in Italy and at the Dunhill. Yeah, game feels good. It’s nice and consistent. 

“I took a little bit of time off after the Dunhill and then had my coach, Michael Bannon, in town last week in Florida. So we just did a little bit of work and trying to, you know, get myself in the best place possible for here this week. Then I’ve got another three weeks off before playing the season-ending championship in Dubai over on the European Tour. 

“Yeah, two events left and still I feel like I have a little bit to play for. I’ve put myself in a nice position to try to get back to No. 1 in the world and trying to finish off the European Tour title over there, too. Still plenty of motivation this time of the year. Again, it makes coming to a new golf course, makes things interesting and trying to learn that for the first time. Yeah, excited to be here, great field, great golf course and defending a title. Yeah, looking forward to getting going.” 

The Holywood native is in one of the featured groups alongside a resurgent Rickie Fowler and Korean starlet Tom Kim who lit up the Presidents Cup before going onto win his second PGA Tour title – becoming the first player since Tiger Woods to win two PGA Tour titles before the age of 21. 

McIlroy offered the 20-year-old sensation some advice when Kim asked him a question in what was a cool moment in the pre-tournament press conference. 

“I didn’t have as much success as you’re having at such a young age,” laughed McIlroy. 

“Like I think when you start to have success at a young age, you’re going to — I think the biggest thing that I realised is managing your time. You’re going to be pulled in so many different directions. 

“You’ve got one, two, three, four, I can see five sponsors on you at this point, right? So it’s just trying to manage your time to realise what got you to this position, right? Why are you a two-time PGA TOUR winner, why are you such a great player? And it’s the time that you put into it and it’s the practice, it’s not losing sight of that. I think that’s the thing.” 

Lowry arrives off the back of a missed cut at the Alfred Dunhill Links but he was given the wrong side of the draw in some biblical weather conditions.  

The Clara man will still be riding high on confidence following his BMW PGA Championship win at Wentworth and course conditions this week could prove favourable as he hunts a maiden regular PGA Tour win. 

Now at world number 21 Lowry can carry his experience of trying to make a Ryder Cup team into this one but also carry the weight of expectation that has been placed on his shoulders into the big events. 

There is no reason why the Offaly man can’t fight on both fronts at the majors while trying to cement a second Team Europe appearance. 

Lowry tees off alongside Matt Fitzpatrick and Jason Day. 

Waterford’s Power has gone off the boil – missing three of his last five cuts and he will be wary of getting back to good form quickly at 46th in the world rankings.  

The Tooraneena native will want to end the year on a high and remain inside the top-50. 

Power has been grouped with Sebastian Munoz and KH Lee. 

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One response to “McIlroy in world number one bid while Ryder Cup points on offer for Lowry and Power”

  1. John Shirey avatar
    John Shirey

    I wish the writer would tell us where the golf course is located.

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