World Number One Rory McIlroy returns to The European Tour this week looking to put further distance between himself and the chasing pack in The Race to Dubai with a fifth victory of the year at the Barclays Singapore Open.
The Northern Irishman has enjoyed the best season of his career to date with a second Major victory at the US PGA Championship and three other wins on the PGA Tour as well as playing a starring role in Europe’s epic Ryder Cup win over the USA at Medinah.
On The European Tour, McIlroy’s record-breaking Major victory at Kiawah Island, coupled with a further six top five finishes, has ensured a €764,776 lead in The Race to Dubai over Sweden’s Peter Hanson.
The 23 year old will tee up at the magnificent Sentosa Golf Club knowing that his Race to Dubai fate is in his own hands as he looks to follow Luke Donald in 2011 by becoming the second player to officially win The European and US PGA Tour money lists in the same season.
McIlroy will, as always, face some serious competition at Sentosa, where three-time champion Adam Scott and three-time Masters Champion Phil Mickelson will be joined by many of The European Tour’s finest, including the resurgent Paul Casey and Padraig Harrington, and Louis Oosthuizen.
For Scott, this week’s appearance will feel like a title defence having missed the opportunity to do so 12 months ago.
“I wasn’t able to defend the title last year because the tournament clashed with the Australian Open,” said Scott, who heralds from Adelaide.
“That was a tough call for me because I love this tournament and this golf course so much.
“The Sentosa Golf Club is always in such good condition – it is one of the best courses we play anywhere in the world and every time we come here it is immaculate.
“There have been a lot of changes to the course since I first started coming here but it has always been a course that I have felt very comfortable on and I have always been treated unbelievably well by the members here.
“The Singaporean fans have always been great to me too, so it is a tournament that I just love to play in. It does get very hot and humid here and there can be storm delays, but that doesn’t take anything away from the enjoyment I get out of playing here.”
Harrington is in particularly buoyant mood following his victory in the recent PGA Grand Slam of Golf, where the Irishman was drafted into the four-man field as a last-minute replacement for the then injured Ernie Els and went on to take the title.
“I believe I’m playing really good golf,” said Harrington. “I see a lot of good things happening and I do believe that I’m turning the corner into a peak.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of winning and winning majors. They are not that easy to come by.
“It was pretty tough for me after 2007 and by the end of 2008, it seemed quite easy. I do realise with experience that the wins don’t come around as often as you think. I do believe I’m going into a nice period in my career now, and I’m looking forward to some good successes.”