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WM Phoenix Open: Scottie Scheffler takes world No 1 from Rory McIlroy with brilliant title defence

Scottie Scheffler claimed a fifth PGA Tour victory and a first win since The Masters with a successful title defence at TPC Scottsdale; Rory McIlroy finished tied-32nd and loses world No 1 ranking for the first time since October

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Highlights from the fourth round of the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona.

Scottie Scheffler ended Rory McIlroy’s stint at the top of the world rankings after completing a successful title defence with a two-stroke victory at the WM Phoenix Open.

Scheffler held off a strong challenge from playing partners Jon Rahm and Nick Taylor during a thrilling final round at TPC Scottsdale, with a bogey-free 65 enough to earn the American a fifth PGA Tour title and a first since April.

The 26-year-old carded an eagle and four birdies to end the week on 19 under and comfortably ahead of closest challenger Taylor, who birdied the last to match Scheffler's final-round 65, with Rahm five strokes off the pace in third.

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Scottie Scheffler reacts on winning the WM Phoenix Open and returning to world No 1 at TPC Scottsdale

Victory sees Scheffler becomes the seventh player to successfully defend his title in Phoenix and moves him to fifth in the FedExCup standings, with his latest success also meaning he will jump above McIlroy - who ended the week tied-32nd - as world No 1.

How Scheffler returned to world No 1

Rahm and Taylor immediately halved Scheffler's overnight advantage with birdies at the first, only for the Masters champion to roll in from 10 feet at the par-four next to restore his two-shot cushion.

Scheffler converted from a similar distance at the par-five third to match the birdies of his playing partners, including from 20 feet by Rahm, then holed a crucial par-save at the fifth after a poor first putt ran 10 feet past the hole.

Rahm had made an up and down from the fifth fairway - after pitching out from behind a tree before birdieing the next to move within one of Scheffler, with Taylor rolling in from 35 feet to join the Spaniard in tied-second.

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Nick Taylor watches his shot on the 16 th hole during the third round of the Phoenix Open golf tournament, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
Image: Nick Taylor mixed seven birdies with a lone bogey during the final day

Taylor scrambled par at the seventh and claimed second on his own when Rahm bogeyed the next, with the Canadian joining Scheffler in making a close-range birdie at the ninth to stay one behind at the turn.

Scheffler lost his outright advantage when Taylor flicked a wedge at the tenth to three feet and made a fifth birdie of the round, while Rahm had to make a 20-footer just to save par at the next and remain within three of the lead.

Jon Rahm watches his sand shot on the 18th hole during the third round of the Phoenix Open golf tournament, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Image: Jon Rahm was chasing a third PGA Tour victory of the year

Taylor took advantage of the par-five 13th but found himself one behind when Scheffler drained a 30-foot eagle to get to 18 under, while Rahm made birdie and then salvaged a par at the 15th after almost holing from the drop zone.

Scheffler received relief from near the grandstand at the par-three 16th and recovered from an average chip to nail a 15-foot putt for par, which was enough to extend his lead when Taylor failed to get up and down from left of the putting surface.

Image: Scottie Scheffler's victory is his fifth PGA Tour title and first in 10 months

Another birdie at the driveable par-four 17th extended Scheffler's cushion heading to the final hole, where a par was enough to claim his first win of the season and make him the first player since Hideki Matsuyama to make back-to-back Phoenix Open victories.

Taylor birdied the last to claim solo second and Rahm - one of three players who could end the week as world No 1 - finished third with a three-under 68, while four birdies in the last six holes lifted Justin Thomas to fourth spot.

Jason Day's back-to-back 68s over the weekend earned the Australian a top-five finish and England's Tyrrell Hatton was in the group a further shot back, while a hole-in-one at the par-three seventh from Rickie Fowler helped him finish in a share of tenth on 10 under.

Scheffler "proud" to be back No 1

Scheffler's successful title defence comes at the same venue where he made his breakthrough PGA Tour title win 12 months ago, with the latest victory seeing him returning to the world No 1 ranking he held for 30 weeks from his WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play win last March to McIlroy's successful CJ Cup title defence in October.

"I'm just proud with how I fought today," Scheffler said. "I didn't have my best stuff, but I grinded it out. I wasn't hitting it good off tee, my irons didn't feel as sharp, but I played a great round of golf today.

"I started to build some momentum early today and saw some putts go in, so I'm really grateful with the result. It [returning to world No 1] feels pretty good!"

What's next?

Live PGA Tour Golf

The PGA Tour heads to California next for the Genesis Invitational, where 23 of the world's top 25 and all the leading players in the FedExCup standings are due to feature at Riviera Country Club.

Tournament host Tiger Woods will headline the field as he makes his first official start since missing the cut at The Open in July, with the event his first appearance in a non-major PGA Tour event since the Zozo Championship in October 2020.

Watch the Genesis Invitational throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Early coverage begins on Thursday from 2.30pm on Sky Sports Golf, ahead of full coverage from 7pm.

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