Who’s the best player in the world? Rory McIlroy has no doubt: I am

Who’s the best player in the world? Rory McIlroy has no doubt: I am
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Rory McIlroy is No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Jon Rahm is No. 3. Both have played exceptionally well in recent months, but there is no doubt in McIlroy’s mind who should be atop the ranking.

Asked Wednesday at the WM Phoenix Open if he felt like the world’s best, McIlroy’s answer was succinct.

“Yes,” he said, before being asked why.

“Because I do. I’m playing well. I feel like consistency-wise, I’ve been as good as I have been ever in my career.

Full-field tee times from the WM Phoenix Open

“I think the results speak for themselves, as well, over not just the past six months but really the past 18 months post-Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, I feel like I’ve been on a really good run of form since then.”

Especially of late.

McIlroy has won each of his last two PGA Tour starts, dating back to the season-ending Tour Championship and his lone start this season, the CJ Cup in October. He also added another Dubai Desert Classic victory, on the DP World Tour, to his resume in January.

“I said at the end of last year, I feel like as complete of a player as I ever have. If you just look at my statistical categories, there’s no real glaring weaknesses there. I’ve worked really hard on that, to try to become a more well-rounded player,” he said.

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Rahm, meanwhile, won twice on the DPWT to close ’22 and twice on the PGA Tour to open ’23. This will be the first time the two have competed against one another this year. On the last two occasions, McIlroy won the CJ Cup and Rahm finished T-4. Rahm then won the DP World Tour Championship and McIlroy finished fourth.

In between them in the OGWR is No. 2 Scottie Scheffler, who earned his maiden Tour title at this event a year ago. He went on to win four times in six starts, culminating with a green jacket and a spot at world No. 1. He hasn’t won since the Masters, but a repeat performance this week could regain him the top spot.

“Right now I’m ranked No. 2, but I would say I’m not playing the second best golf in the world; I think Rory and Jon are pretty much neck-and-neck for playing the best golf in the world right now, so the rankings are funny. It’s just an algorithm,” Scheffler said Wednesday.

“[B]ut I don’t like being No. 2. I’d rather be No. 1.”

For now, and since October, that mantel has belonged to McIlroy. But while he’s admittedly playing some of the best golf in his career, he isn’t content. He wasn’t pleased with his game in Dubai, though it resulted in victory. That led him to work even harder, to get even better.

“As soon as I got home to Florida last week, I got on the range and started to practice and work on some things, and I feel like my game is in a better place now than it was basically like this time a week ago,” he said.

“But it’s nice. It’s nice to get that first start of the year out of the way, see where the areas are to improve, and I feel like I’ve done some good work over the past sort of six or seven days, and as I said, feel a bit better because of it.”

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