RIDGELAND, S.C. (AP)Rory McIlroy capped off his steady march back to No. 1 in the world on Sunday with an explosive burst of three birdies late in the round to hold off Kurt Kitayama and win the CJ Cup in South Carolina.
Tied with Kitayama with five holes to go at Congaree, McIlroy ran off three straight birdies to seize control and finished with two bogeys, hardly enough to ruin the moment. He closed with a 4-under 67 for a one-shot victory.
McIlroy, who finished at 17-under 267, won for the 23rd time on the PGA Tour and 31st time worldwide.
It was his ninth time reaching No. 1 in the world, behind only Tiger Woods and Greg Norman (both 11) in getting to the top of the ranking the most times.
McIlroy won the CJ Cup for the second straight time.
Kitayama overcame an early two-shot deficit and was tied for the lead until McIlroy took over with a 15-foot birdie on the 14th.
On the 348-yard 15th, Kitayama drove the green to 45 feet and McIlroy was in a bunker. McIlroy blasted out to 5 feet and converted the birdie, while Kitayama ran his putt 6 feet by the cup and missed it coming back to settle for par.
McIlroy effectively sealed it with a 20-foot birdie on the 16th, although there was a nervous moment at the end. With a two-shot lead on the final hole, McIlroy gunned his long birdie putt some 8 feet by and Kitayama had just outside 20 feet for birdie.
WONJU, South Korea (AP) – Lydia Ko won her 18th career LPGA title in the country of her birth after a 7-under 65 final round at the BMW Ladies Championship on Sunday.
Ko finished the South Korea-based tournament with a 21-under 267, four strokes ahead of Andrea Lee, who had a final round of 3-under 69. Ko was born in Seoul and moved to New Zealand as a child.
Atthaya Thitikul, who carded a tournament-record 9-under 63 on the first day and led by one going into the final round, ended up fourth following a 2-over 74. She needed to win to reach No. 1 in the women’s world ranking.
Ko slipped to 15 under when she had a bogey at the No. 7 before firing in six birdies to leave the rest of the pack behind.
There was a three-way tie for third place with Hye-Jin Choi, Hyo Joo Kim and Lilia Vu all ending up at 16-under 272.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Steven Alker birdied three straight holes to break out of a late four-way tie for the lead on Sunday and won the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, the opening event in the Charles Schwab Cup postseason on the PGA Tour Champions.
Alker, who started the tournament as the Schwab Cup leader in the three-event finish to the season, made birdies at Nos. 15, 16 and 17 and beat K.J. Choi by one shot for his fourth victory of the season. That ties Steve Stricker for the most on the tour this year.
Jerry Kelly, who led after each of the first two rounds on the James River Course at the Country Club of Virginia, had the lead until the par-4 15th hole, when his birdie try stopped on the edge of the cup. Playing partners Alker and Padraig Harrington made their putts to pull even at 12 under, and moments later, a hole ahead, Choi also got to 12 under.
Alker added birdies on the par-5 16th and the par-3 17th, then closed with a tap-in par on the par-5 18th, raising his arms in triumph as it fell, making Choi’s closing birdie good enough only for a runner-up finish.
Kelly, who closed with an even-par 72, Harrington (69) and Doug Barron (69) shared third, two shots behind, with Ernie Els (67) and Brian Gay (69) sharing sixth. Els was one shot back after a birdie at the par-4 11th, but finished with seven consecutive pars.
PALMA, Spain (AP) – Yannik Paul made a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win his first European tour title by one stroke at the Mallorca Open on Sunday.
Paul overcame a two-shot deficit with three holes to play at the Son Muntaner Golf Club. The German had three birdies and four bogeys for a 1-over 72, finishing the tournament at 15 under to win in his 26th appearance on the European tour.
Marcus Armitage (73) had a two-shot lead with three holes left but went out-of-bounds on the 17th hole. He played the last three holes in 4 over and tied for sixth.
Paul had consecutive bogeys on Nos. 14 and 15 to lose the lead but recovered at the end.
England’s Paul Waring (66) and Germany’s Nicolai von Dellingshausen (69) tied for second at 14 under.
Ryan Fox (74) tied for fourth at 13 under to move past Matt Fitzpatrick for second place in the Race to Dubai entering the final stretch of the season.
Taiga Semikawa made it two straight wins on the Japan Golf Tour when the 21-year-old amateur closed with a 3-over 73 to capture the Japan Open. Semikawa, only the sixth amateur to win on the Japan Golf Tour, now has three straight wins. He previously won the Panasonic Open, and before that on the Japan developmental tour. Kazuki Higa was runner-up, while Adam Scott tied for sixth. … Olivia Cowan of Germany closed with a 4-under 68 for a three-shot victory over Caroline Hedwall and Amandeep Drall in the Hero Women’s Indian Open. It was her first win on the Ladies European Tour. … Dylan Naidoo shot 4-under 67 and won the SunBet Challenge by two shots on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa. … Haruka Kawasaki closed with a 3-under 69 for a one-shot victory in the Nobuta Group Masters, her third victory this year on the Japan LPGA. … Hyo Ju You birdied two of the last three holes for a 5-under 67 and a one-shot victory in the Wemix Championship on the Korea LPGA. … Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina shot a 1-under 70 and won his first Legends Tour title, beating James Kingston by three shots in the Italian Senior Open.
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