McIlroy arrived at Quail Hollow ranked 15th in the world, his lowest position since November, 2009, and on the back of a missed cut in the Masters.
The 32-year-old was also without a win for 19 months and was almost forced to withdraw from the event with a neck injury, but survived a scare at the final hole to card a closing 68 for a one-shot win.
McIlroy’s 19th PGA Tour title lifted him to seventh in the world rankings just 10 days before the year’s second major at another of his happy hunting grounds.
The US PGA Championship is being staged at Kiawah Island for the first time since McIlroy romped to an eight-shot win there in 2012 and he was quickly made favourite to claim a fifth major title and first since 2014.
“This victory’s very important going into Kiawah in a couple weeks’ time,” said McIlroy, who added Pete Cowen to his coaching team earlier this year in a bid to rediscover his form.
“Obviously I played really well there last time. I’m honestly not sure whether they’ve made any changes to the golf course since, but I’ll go up there and try to do my homework and re-familiarise myself with the layout a little bit.
“But it’s certainly great timing. This is obviously a huge confidence boost going in there knowing that my game is closer than it has been. I’ll be able to poke holes in everything that I did today, it’s certainly far from perfect, but validation I’m on the right track.”
McIlroy has been working with Rotherham’s renowned swing coach Cowen for the last few months as he tries to address his demons – with that work now starting to bear fruit.