Despite coming up agonisingly short in his bid for a fifth Major Championship, Rory McIlroy’s third place finish at The 150th Open Championship saw him return to the top of the DP World Tour Rankings in partnership with Rolex.
The 33-year-old Northern Irishman leapfrogged Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick to the summit of the DP World Tour’s season-long points race after a closing round of 70 at St Andrews which saw him finish two strokes back from Cameron Smith, who produced a back-nine masterclass to capture the Claret Jug.
Smith’s closing 64 featured an inward nine of clutch putting for six birdies which saw the Australian win on 20 under par, a stroke clear of PGA TOUR rookie Cameron Young who eagled the Old Course’s famous closing hole for a 65.
McIlroy had to settle for a final round 70 but edged ahead of Zalatoris, who finished tied 28th, in the Rankings after gaining 627 points to take his season total to 2,993.
"I'll rue a few missed sort of putts that slid by. But it's been a good week overall," said McIlroy who has complied four top-eight finishes in this year's Majors.
"I can't be too despondent because of how this year's gone and this year's going. I'm playing some of the best golf I've played in a long time. So, it's just a matter of keeping knocking on the door, and eventually one will open.”
Norway’s Viktor Hovland, playing in the final group with McIlroy, finished tied fourth with Englishman Tommy Fleetwood on 14 under par to jump from eighth to fourth in the Rankings.
While Smith was putting his way to famous maiden Major victory in St Andrews, 7,858km away in Truckee, California, Alex Noren was getting started on a near 100-place jump up the DP World Tour Rankings.
The U.S.-based Swede came within a point of claiming his 11th DP World Tour title at the Barracuda Championship at Tahoe Mountain Club. Chez Reavie ultimately won the Modified Stableford event with 43 points for his third PGA TOUR title and will be exempt on the DP World Tour through the 2023-24 season as a result.
Noren, who celebrated his 40th birthday on Tuesday, made the late decision to tee it up in California despite being first reserve for The Open Championship. It proved a fruitful decision as he skipped 95 places up the season-long DP World Tour Rankings to 35th.
That puts Noren firmly on course for a start among the top-50 qualifiers for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai from November 17-20.
"If it was another tournament, I might not have gone here," said Noren, a member of Europe’s successful 2018 Ryder Cup team, of the Barracuda Championship.
"But I just love this week, and I wanted to have a vacation at home with the kids before the (PGA TOUR) Playoffs start. I wanted to be able to grab some points, either at The Open or here. I didn't want to just sit out The Open and then have to add a week."
It was also a profitable Sunday in Truckee for German Hurly Long who finished next best of the DP World Tour members in seventh with 33 points. The performance, on the back of a fourth place finish at last week’s Barbasol Championship, sees Long climb another four spots to 18th in the DP World Tour Rankings.
"I don't know if there's just one (highlight from the last two weeks),” said Long who graduated from the European Challenge Tour in 2021.
"They're so different, these two weeks, but I enjoyed both of them. This is more of a challenging course, whereas the other one you could go make a lot of birdies, which I enjoyed both. Two great weeks."
The DP World Tour rolls on to the €1.75 million Cazoo Classic at Hillside Golf Club in Southport this week.
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