McIl­roy seeks win in Dubai, aims to re­claim No 1 rank­ing

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Rory McIl­roy is re­signed to los­ing his Race to Dubai crown, but his mo­ti­va­tion this week is to suc­cess­fully de­fend his DP World Tour Cham­pi­onship ti­tle and move one step closer to re­gain­ing the world No. 1 rank­ing.

McIl­roy could have re­placed Ja­son Day atop the rank­ings by win­ning the Euro­pean Tour’s sea­son-end­ing tour­na­ment, but Rus­sell Knox’s de­ci­sion to with­draw last week re­duced the strength of the field and low­ered the num­ber of points avail­able.

If Knox, ranked No. 18, had re­mained in the field, the win­ner of the tour­na­ment would have gained 54 points - enough for McIl­roy to sur­pass Day. In­stead, the win­ner will earn just 52 points, leav­ing McIl­roy short even with a vic­tory.

His chances of con­tend­ing this week­end seem high. McIl­roy, the de­fend­ing cham­pion and also the 2012 win­ner at Jumeirah Golf Es­tates, has fin­ished out­side the top 10 only once in seven ap­pear­ances, ty­ing for 11th in 2011.

“It’s al­ways good to be back here,” he said. “I have great me­mories from this place, feel like my game is in pretty good shape. I’ve played this golf course pretty well in the past, and hope­fully, I can play it just as well, if not bet­ter, this week. (It) would be a good way to fin­ish the year on a high and get a vic­tory and lift the tro­phy and hope­fully make the turkey taste a bit bet­ter at Christ­mas.

McIl­roy ac­knowl­edged that he can fin­ish the sea­son atop the Euro­pean Tour rank­ings, but knows it’s un­likely. He must win and needs Hen­rik Sten­son, Danny Wil­lett and Alex Noren, each above him in the Race to Dubai stand­ings, to strug­gle.

“I can win math­e­mat­i­cally, but it’s not go­ing to hap­pen,” McIl­roy said. “I wouldn’t hold my breath. I think the three guys that are ahead of me are play­ing very good golf, es­pe­cially the two Swedes, Hen­rik and Alex.

“Alex, with what he’s done over the past few weeks; Hen­rik has had a fan­tas­tic year, and so has Danny, ob­vi­ously, so I don’t ex­pect those guys to play badly this week. I’m just con­cen­trat­ing on try­ing to win the golf tour­na­ment, and if I can do that, I’ll be very happy.”

McIl­roy pulled out of the Turk­ish Air­lines Open, cit­ing se­cu­rity con­cerns, shortly be­fore the event be­gan ear­lier this month. That de­ci­sion vir­tu­ally ruled him out of the Race to Dubai as well.

How­ever, McIl­roy, from North­ern Ire­land, said he has no re­grets. “I’m very happy with my de­ci­sion,” he said. “I’ve been here for the last cou­ple of weeks. I’ve done a bit of prac­tice, en­joyed my­self. So, no, no re­grets at all.

“I’d rather have gone to Turkey want­ing to go there and win­ning the golf tour­na­ment, rather than go­ing there not want­ing to and fin­ish­ing tied 40th. What good does that do to the tour­na­ment?”

Al­though the next Euro­pean Tour sea­son be­gins in De­cem­ber, and the next U.S. PGA Tour sea­son is al­ready un­der­way, McIl­roy con­firmed the DP World Cham­pi­onship will be his last event of the year. He last played in a De­cem­ber event in 2013. —AP

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