Rory McIlroy No. 1 again? Jon Rahm wins again? CJ Cup Sunday could be wild

Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on Saturday on the 4th hole at Congaree Golf Club.

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Rory McIlroy could go back to No. 1. Jon Rahm could go back-to-back. Tom Kim could do something that even that Tiger guy never did. All on a gettable track. If your home team is losing on NFL Sunday, or your fantasy team is hurting, the golf may not disappoint. Here are three things you need to know after Saturday’s third round at the CJ Cup, played at Congaree Golf Club in Ridgeland, S.C. 

Complete leaderboard here

Rory McIlroy is leading — and could go back to No. 1 

We’ll start with McIlroy. On Saturday, he birdied three holes, bogeyed three and eagled two for a four-under 67, a 13-under total and a one-shot lead over Rahm, K.H. Lee and Kurt Kitayama. More, though, is at stake for him than PGA Tour victory No. 23. 

Should McIlroy hang on, and current world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler finishes worse than a tie for second with one other golfer — Scheffler is currently tied for 47th and 13 strokes back of the lead — McIlroy would rise to No. 1 for the ninth time overall, and first since 2020. (McIlroy could also move to the top should he finish second alone, and Scheffler finishes worse than 34th alone.)

“Yeah, there’s an excitement level of doing something for the first time that I think you’re never going to get back again,” McIlroy said after his round. “But again, it’s still something that everyone out here would obviously be very, very proud of. It’s been a long journey from when I was No. 1 back in July of 2020. It’s been two years and a bunch of stuff has happened, so I think that thinking back along, it will be — it mightn’t have the excitement that 2012 did, but it will have as much if not more meaning because of everything that I’ve sort of went through over the last couple years.”

Jon Rahm is tied for second — and could go back-to-back

On to Rahm. On Saturday, he survived a bumpy mid-round stretch — bogeys on 8, 10 and 11 — finished well — birdies on 12, 15 and 17 and shot a one-under 71. A win for him would be his second straight, following his victory at acciona Open de Espana on the DP World Tour. 

“I’m going in confident tomorrow,” Rahm said. “Today was a battle and I’m hoping tomorrow’s a little bit better. It’s going to take a low one as usual. This is the PGA Tour — somebody will come out hot on Sunday and I’m hoping that’s me. I’ve done it my last few Sundays, so I’m hoping I can do three in a row.”

Tom Kim is lurking — and could do something that even Tiger Woods didn’t do

Two back of the lead are Taylor Moore and Aaron Wise. Three back are Kim and Brendon Todd. 

And should Kim win, it would be Tour win No. 3 before the age of 21 — something even Tiger Woods never accomplished.

“I just try to take it day by day,” Kim said Thursday. “Obviously you can’t get ahead of yourself. Like these guys are so good where you just have to keep your head down and play your game and just try to sum up the results. I just really try to stay day by day really.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.