With many of his nearest rivals not in action at the Barclays Singapore Open, Rory McIlroy has targeted a repeat of his top five finish in his last appearance, in 2008, as he bids to strengthen his position at the top of The Race to Dubai.
Victory for the World Number One in this week’s US$6million event would give him an unassailable lead with two events remaining in The Race to Dubai and, having already wrapped up the US PGA Tour Money List, would also see him emulate the feats of his Ryder Cup team-mate Luke Donald, who finished last season as the Number One player on both sides of the Atlantic.
McIlroy, who beat World Number Two Tiger Woods in last week’s ‘Duel at Jinsha Lake’, is currently €764,776 ahead of Peter Hanson in second place, and with the Swede resting along with the English duo of Justin Rose (third) and Ian Poulter (fourth), the 23 year old is in prime position to become only the second Northern Irishman, after Ronan Rafferty in 1989, to win the Harry Vardon Trophy.
He said: “I’m in the lead at the minute, and it would be nice to increase that. I’ve had a good run in the last couple of weeks, and it would be nice to go to Dubai with a healthy lead. It’s good to know that if I play half way decent in my remaining tournaments, I can win the money lists in Europe and the US. There’s still a lot to play for in the next three weeks, and now I want to finish off the season as strongly as possible.”
Finishing the campaign as Europe’s Number One would set the seal on McIlroy’s most successful season to date, having won his second Major title – again by eight strokes – at the US PGA Championship, and ascended to the summit of the Official World Golf Ranking, a position he is almost certain still to be occupying come the end of the year.
But, like all the great players from the past, McIlroy’s pursuit of excellence is never-ending. With his innate hunger and desire to keep improving and bettering himself, McIlroy will surely scale even great heights in the future.
He said: “It’s already been a very successful year. Winning my second Major Championship was a huge milestone, a huge stepping stone in my career, and now I want to follow up next season with another Major. I’ve almost achieved all the goals I wanted to this year: I wanted to win a Major, I wanted to get to World Number One, and I wanted to win a few tournaments around the world.
“But the season is not over yet, there’s another three tournaments left and it would be great to get another win or two before the year has finished. If I can just keep doing the same things, and try to become better at certain aspects of the game, that’s what I need to do to keep progressing and keep getting better year by year. I’ve done that every year since I turned pro, and hopefully I can still keep that progression going.”
McIlroy will have to be at his brilliant best if he is to improve on his previous performance at Sentosa Golf Club, having finished in fourth place on his debut appearance as a sponsor’s invitation four years ago.
The Holywood native has been persuaded to return to Singapore for a second tilt at the tittle thanks in part to the decision to revert to using one course for the duration of the tournament.
“Going back to one course has made it more appealing,” he said.
“I really enjoyed my time in Singapore here last time I played, I really enjoyed the golf course and finished in the top five. It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to come back to, and now that it’s back to one course – and a course I played well on last time – I’ll see if I can do a little bit better than last time.”