Rory McIlroy was asked a simple question on Wednesday ahead of his first PGA Tour stop of 2023.
Does he feel like he’s the No. 1 ranked player in the world right now?
“Yes,” he replied plainly.
McIlroy is in the field this week at the WM Phoenix Open, marking his second stop of the season and first since October, when he won The CJ Cup. Since that stop in South Carolina — which came shortly after McIlroy won the Tour Championship and the FedExCup for a record third time — McIlroy won the DP World Tour’s season-long title race and then won the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in January.
Though he’s been away from the Tour for several months now, McIlroy doesn’t feel like he’s missed a beat whatsoever.
“I’m playing well. I feel like consistency-wise, I’ve been as good as I have been ever in my career,” he said Wednesday at TPC Scottsdale. “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.
“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.”
McIlroy’s run at No. 1 is at risk
Though McIlroy may feel like the best player in the world, his spot atop the Official World Golf Rankings is at risk — largely due to how strong the field at the WM Phoenix Open actually is.
23 of the top 24 golfers in the rankings that are eligible to play on Tour are in Scottsdale this week, which makes it by far the strongest field top to bottom so far this season.
Both Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm have real paths to take the No. 1 spot if McIlroy finishes worse than a three-way tie for second.
Scheffler is trying to defend his title in Arizona this week, too. His win last year sparked his breakout year in golf, and led to four wins and a green jacket at Augusta National.
“I like being No. 1 in the world. I don’t like being No. 2,” Scheffler said Wednesday. “It’s just kind of one of those funny things. 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.
“You don’t get any extra trophies or anything like that for having it for a short period of time, but it’s more of a reflection of other things, I’d say. But I don’t like being No. 2. I’d rather be No. 1.”