2022 CJ Cup leaderboard, scores: Rory McIlroy takes solo lead after Round 3 as Jon Rahm poses biggest threat – CBS Sports
College Football Pick’em
U.S. Soccer Podcast
A seesaw third round at the 2022 CJ Cup in South Carolina saw Rory McIlroy climb atop the leaderboard at Congaree Golf Club. McIlroy would ascend to the top of the Official World Golf Rankings for the ninth time in his career if he can hold on for the win Sunday, but it won’t be easy as the Northern Irishman has plenty of pursuers in his rearview mirror.
Sitting at 13 under, McIlroy shot out of the gates on Saturday with a birdie and an eagle in his first four holes. Quickly making up ground on overnight leaders Jon Rahm and Kurt Kitayama, McIlroy kept his foot on the gas when an unlikely eagle opportunity from off the green on the par-5 12th found the bottom of the cup.
Playing the three par 5s in 5 under during his third round, McIlroy was able to give himself room for mistake as two bogeys in his final six holes saw him retreat to the pack ever so slightly. Waiting for him are both Rahm and Kitayama, as well as K.H. Lee, who tied for the lowest round of the day with a 5-under 66 to sit at 12 under.
Just past them on the leaderboard are a number of young stars-in-the-making including Cam Davis, Aaron Wise and Tom Kim. Quietly going about his business on Saturday, the 20-year-old remains within touch of his playing companion from the first two days at 9 under and will be looking for his third triumph in his last six tournaments.
1. Rory McIlroy (-13)
There may not be enough words to accurately describe what McIlroy has been doing in the world of golf this past year. Running low on adjectives, the 33-year-old has continued to impress this week in his PGA Tour season debut and is in line to successfully defend his CJ Cup crown from Las Vegas in 2021.
Ranked 14th in the world at the onset of that week, McIlroy’s ascent to the top of the game has simply been incredible. His 2021-22 season saw him tee it up 22 times worldwide while notching three victories, 19 top-20 finishes and 11 top-five finishes as well as top-10 finishes at all four major championships. He is clearly the best player in the world at the moment, and has an opportunity on Sunday to make it official with his 23rd title on the PGA Tour.
Brilliant eagle from way downtown 🦅@McIlroyRory jumps to the solo lead @CJCupSC. pic.twitter.com/R4S79OECHw
T2. Jon Rahm, K.H. Lee and Kurt Kitayama (-12)
T5. Aaron Wise and Taylor Moore (-10)
T7. Tom Kim and Brendon Todd (-9)
T9. Cam Davis, Tom Hoge, Maverick McNealy and Tommy Fleetwood (-8)
Saturday’s round could have easily gotten away from the 36-hole leader as Rahm experienced an up-and-down day. After playing his first seven holes in 1 under, the 27-year-old lost his touch on the greens and carded three bogeys from Nos. 8-11, two of which were the result of three putts.
Despite the turbulence and visible anger, Rahm kept a cool head and was rewarded for his patience. Playing his last seven holes in 3 under, he remained within touch of McIlroy and will pose as the biggest threat to the Northern Irishman on the final day at Congaree.
Beautiful birdie at 17 🐦@JonRahmPGA is T2 heading into Sunday. pic.twitter.com/QHb7f14GZp
McIlroy controls his own destiny, and with a win would not only secure win No. 23 on the PGA Tour but also regain status as world No. 1. However, if he is to falter, not all will be lost. If able to finish solo second, McIlroy still holds an opportunity to reach world No. 1 if Scottie Scheffler finishes worse than solo 34th. The current world No. 1 sits in a tie for 47th as he continues to struggle with the putter in hand.
🚨#OWGR No.1 watch:
1. Rory wins #CJCup and Scheffler doesn’t finish solo 2nd or in a 2-way tie for 2nd.
2. Rory finishes solo 2nd and Scottie finishes worse than solo 34th.
With Congaree playing firm and fast, hitting approach shots close to pins has become all the more difficult. Don’t tell Wyndham Clark that after the 28-year-old hit the shot of the tournament during his third round. Making a hole-in-one on the par-3 10th, Clark wielded a 7-iron to perfection from 181 yards.
ACE ALERT 🚨@Wyndham_Clark cards a 1️⃣ at No. 10. pic.twitter.com/ei0WispHUe
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
Only seven players are listed lower than 100-1 heading into the final round as the top of the odds board is filled with two of the game’s elites. The sentiment shared on Friday will be the same shared on Saturday: I will go out on a massive limb and say either Rahm or Rory will prove to be victorious come Sunday evening at Congaree.
The name of the game tomorrow between these two Ryder Cup teammates will be iron play. While McIlroy has improved each day from a strokes gained approach perspective, Rahm has actually struggled. If McIlroy continues this trend, he will be near impossible to beat, but it is almost encouraging for Rahm fans that he is only one stroke back without having his world-class iron play. In the end, I think the Spaniard figures things out with his scoring clubs and robs McIlroy of a successful defense.
© 2004-2022 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.
CBS Sports is a registered trademark of CBS Broadcasting Inc. Commissioner.com is a registered trademark of CBS Interactive Inc.
Images by Getty Images and US Presswire