DUBAI (AFP) – Rory McIlroy, a three-time winner of the Race to Dubai, says he is fine with the fact that he cannot become the European Tour’s number one for a fourth time this week at the DP World Tour Championship.
The Northern Irishman, who created a stir with his decision not to take up European Tour membership late in the season, has made enough points to climb to sixth in the Race to Dubai standings going into the final week.
However, even if McIlroy wins the season-ending championship and secures the winner’s cheque of USD3 million on Sunday, he won’t garner enough points to surpass current leader Bernd Wiesberger.
Only the next four players – England’s Tommy Fleetwood, Spaniard Jon Rahm, British Open champion Shane Lowry and Matthew Fitzpatrick – have a mathematical chance of usurping Wiesberger.
Asked if he felt any frustration at not having a chance to add to his crowns in 2012, 2014 and 2015, the 30-year-old McIlroy said, “No. I’ve already won it three times.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to do it, but I just haven’t played enough counting European Tour events to have a chance, so no.
“I haven’t played enough, and you look at someone like a Bernd Wiesberger who has played 28 times. You know, those are the guys that deserve to be up there with a chance to win.”
McIlroy, Player of the Year on the PGA Tour this year and coming off a win at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, will be without his best friend and caddie Harry Diamond on the bag this week.
Diamond is taking the week off to be with his new-born child and his place has been taken by another close friend, former Ireland A rugby fly-half Niall O’Connor.
The switch before an important tournament does not bother McIlroy, who has a superb record at the Earth Course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.
McIlroy has won the DP World Tour Championship twice and has finished outside the top 10 just two times in nine starts.
“I have been coming here for 10 years and I feel like I know the place like the back of my hand,” said McIlroy.
“Hopefully, I can play well the first few days and you know, we’ll get into the heat of battle and that will be fun for both of us…
“It will be fun. Obviously, Niall and I go back a long way, so for me, at this point, it’s just about trying to stay as relaxed and as loose as possible out there and he can definitely do that for me.”
The tournament has a new look this year, with only the top 50 players qualifying after the year-long Race to Dubai and it now offers the biggest winning cheque in professional golf.
Fleetwood jumped into contention by winning his first title since the 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship at last week’s Nedbank Challenge.
The world number 10 was the 2017 Race to Dubai champion.
“I think the lucky thing is for me is that I know I have done it before,” said the 28-year-old. “It’s not like I’m chasing something that I don’t have or haven’t done.
“And I have the experience of 2017 and 2018 of coming to this event with a chance to win it.
“You can’t really buy experience. So, when I’ll go out there… It won’t be an unfamiliar feeling.