WM Phoenix Open: Rory McIlroy feels like he’s the best player in the world, no question

Rory McIlroy was asked a simple question Wednesday ahead of his first stop on the PGA Tour in 2023.

Does he feel like the number one player in the world right now?

“Yes,” he answered bluntly.

McIlroy will compete at the WM Phoenix Open this week, his second stop of the season and his first since October when he won the CJ Cup. After that stop in South Carolina shortly after McIlroy won the Tour Championship and FedExCup for a record third time, McIlroy won the season’s DP World Tour title race before winning the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in January.

Although McIlroy hasn’t competed in the Tour in months, he doesn’t feel like he’s missing out.

“I play well. I feel consistent, I was as good as ever in my career,” he said on Wednesday at TPC Scottsdale. “At the end of last year, I said that I feel like a complete player like never before. If you just look at my statistical categories, there are no obvious flaws. I worked really hard on it, trying to be a more versatile player.

“I think the results speak for themselves, not just in the last six months, but in the last 18 months since the Ryder Cup at Whistling Streets. I feel like I’ve been in really good shape ever since. ”

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy returned to the tour this week for the first time since October for the People’s Major. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)

McIlroy’s run to the top is in jeopardy

While McIlroy may feel like the best player in the world, his place in the official world golf rankings is in jeopardy – mostly because of how strong the course actually is at the WM Phoenix Open.

Scottsdale is home to 23 of the top 24 ranked players this week who are eligible for the Tour, making him the strongest player this season.

Both Scotty Sheffler and John Rahm have a real chance of taking first place if McIlroy finishes second worse than with a three-way tie.

Scheffler is also trying to defend his title in Arizona this week. His win last year was his breakthrough in golf and led to four victories and a green jacket at the Augusta National.

“I love being #1 in the world. I don’t like being number two,” Scheffler said on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those fun things. I’m ranked #2 right now but I’d say I don’t play the second best golf in the world, I think Rory and John are pretty much head to head for playing the best golf in the world right now . so the ratings are funny. It’s just an algorithm.

“You don’t get any extra trophies or anything like that in a short period of time, but I’d say it’s more of a reflection of other things. But I don’t like being No. 2. I’d rather be No. 1.”


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