For new World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, it was going to bed last April without any dinner in a Texas hotel that somehow provided the appetite to get back to being the game’s best.
McIlroy may have bogeyed his closing two holes in successfully defending the CJ Cup but his successful defence of the trophy, along with the reigning World No. 1 American Scottie Scheffler ending well down the field, was good enough for McIlroy to return to the top of the rankings.
It’s the ninth occasion since March 4th, 2012 that McIlroy has topped the rankings and a first time since July 18th, 2020 he’s been atop of the world in men’s professional golf.
Other facts emerging from Sunday’s one-stroke success include that McIlroy captured a 23rd PGA Tour title in his 221st start, and the age of 33 years, 5 months and 19 days.
McIlroy, in capturing his 35th career title, has at least won one PGA Tour title in his last six seasons while he moves to No. 28 on the all-time list of PGA Tour winners.
McIlroy was clearly quite emotional on the 18th green on Sunday in speaking of getting back to the top of the World Rankings but then he revealed the hunger pains in going to bed last April in the on-course TPC San Antonio hotel after missing the halfway cut with scores of 72 and 73 at the Valero Texas Open.
It was one of only two missed cuts all 2021/22 PGA Tour season for McIlroy and his quest to leave San Antonio as quickly as he could that Friday night were foiled, no doubt due to travel issues, so much so he elected to remain in the Alamo City for another night.
Well, not all went to McIlroy’s plans as he explained.
“I remember, I couldn’t get out of there on Friday night so I had to wait till Saturday morning to get back to Florida,” he said. “That JW Marriott Hotel on course there in San Antonio is massive and, I guess, there was some party on Friday night and I was feeling pretty bad, missed the cut.
“I got back up to my hotel room and went to order room service and they said it will be a two-and-a-half-hour wait. So, I basically missed the cut, went to bed on an empty stomach and I was like, let’s just wake up tomorrow and start again.
“I don’t know why that sticks out, but I think there were a couple of things that happened that week. I changed my golf ball the following week and that definitely helped get me on this path. I played a new golf ball the next week at Augusta and that was really the turning point to sort of turn the year around.”
From teeing-up in the Masters with a new ball, McIlroy finished second in the Masters, fifth at the Wells Fargo, eighth at the PGA Championship, successfully defended the Canadian Open, ended fifth at the US Open and, as we know, was third at the 150th Open Championship.
He missed a second cut of 2022 at the FedEx St. Jude ahead of ending the PGA Tour season with a share of eighth at the BMW Championship ahead of capturing the Tour Championship.
Of course, it’s that now very long overdue fifth Major championship we want McIlroy to capture but then there’s been plenty of positives as McIlroy also talked of the extra pride he enjoyed throughout his year.
“My three wins very much stand out this past season including battling with J.T. (Justin Thomas) and Tony (Finau) in Canada was a lot of fun, great atmosphere, needing to pull off some good shots there at the end,” said McIlroy.
“Battling with Scottie (Scheffler) and then Sungjae (Im) was actually up there in the Tour Championship as well.
“Yeah, I mean, all three wins I’ve had to go out there and win them, right? I shot 62 to win in Canada, I shot 66 at the Tour Championship and then went out with a lead today and shot 4 under to win. That’s been the most satisfying thing.
“I’ve put myself in position all those three times and went out there and got the job done and did what I needed to. They’re great strides and great steps in the right direction.”
Next-up for McIlroy is the DP World Tour Championship where he will be striving to become the first player to win the title three times after earlier wins in 2012 and 2015.