Rory McIlroy is looking forward to signing off a glorious season in style when he heads to the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai as the European Tour Number One.
The Northern Irishman sealed The Race to Dubai crown with a third place finish in the Barclays Singapore Open, which was won by Italian teenager Matteo Manassero after a play-off with Louis Oosthuizen.
McIlroy, who also won the US PGA Tour money list, will play in this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open before taking on Jumeirah Golf Estates’ Earth Course in the season finale, and he is aiming to win at least one of those events to cap a marvellous campaign.
“It really is hugely satisfying to finally become the European Number One, especially after finishing second in two of the last three years,” said the World Number One. “It has been one of my main goals to become Number One in Europe ever since securing my card five years ago, so to end the year as the Number One on both The European and US PGA Tours is absolutely amazing.
“Winning a second Major Championship already made it a fabulous season, but then to follow Luke [Donald] in becoming Number One in both Europe and the States is the icing on the cake after a fabulous season.
“I feel so proud and humbled to have joined so many fabulous names in Europe who have won the Order of Merit. And to be able to accomplish this goal with two events still remaining in The Race to Dubai means that I can defend my UBS Hong Kong Open title and play in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai without that added pressure, and just really enjoy my golf. The goal is still to try and win at least once more before the end of the season.”
Manassero, who held off McIlroy to claim his third European Tour title in Singapore, was effusive in his praise of the Northern Irishman, saying: “He’s the best player in the world, and he plays a game that nobody else can really match him. He’s so naturally talented that when he’s on his game, nobody can really compete with him. We’ve always known what a great player he is, but now he’s added consistency and a really strong mental game, which is a frightening combination for the rest of us.
“It’s obviously inspiring to see what he’s achieved already in his career, and he’s only 23. To have already won two Majors and won The Race to Dubai at that age is unbelievable really, and he’s only going to get better. It obviously pushes you to try to improve, and hopefully one day I’ll reach the same level as him. Watching him win two Majors by eight shots is something I never thought I’d see, but he makes the game look so easy, which is what all great players do.”
Manassero, who moved up to 13th in The Race to Dubai, added: “One of my main aims at the start of the season was to break into the top 30 of The Race to Dubai, because I’ve finished 31st for the past two years. So it’s great to have been able to achieve that, and it’s also good to know that I’ve booked my place The Open next year after guaranteeing a top 30 finish in The Race to Dubai.
“Now that I’ve climbed into the top 15, I really want to push on and see if I can get into the top ten. My confidence is high and I’m really starting to see the benefits of my swing changes, so it’s great to be hitting some form at just the right time and hopefully I can have a great week in Dubai.”