McIlroy chasing double glory in Race To Dubai
Northern Irishman hopes to finish top of the money list in Europe to add to his US crown
World number one Rory McIlroy has shaken off his Ryder Cup hangover and is ready for a final swing of tournaments that should see him crowned king of Europe, having conquered the United States.
McIlroy has one final goal left this season - to win the Race To Dubai and this week's inaugural US$7 million (HK$54 million) BMW Masters that starts the final countdown, which also includes next month's US$2 million UBS Hong Kong Open.
"I've got a big run left in my year with four tournaments in the next five weeks, so I would like to finish off the season as well as I can," a refreshed McIlroy said yesterday at the Lake Malaren Golf Club near Shanghai.
"I have finished second in the Race To Dubai in two of the past three years so I would love to knock that off and try to do what Luke [Donald] did last year and win the money list on both tours."
McIlroy, who has clinched the US PGA Tour money list with winnings of US$8,047,952, leads the European Tour equivalent with €2,813,962 (HK$28 million) ahead of Englishman Justin Rose and South African Branden Grace.
McIlroy, 23, has made one appearance since being part of Europe's greatest moment in Ryder Cup history - at the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final where he failed to get past the round-robin stages and was thrashed by Tiger Woods.
"If I had of known the summer I was going to have, I really would not have signed up for the Turkish event," he said. "But then I went and it was pretty relaxing and I got to spend the week with Caroline [Wozniacki, his girlfriend] which was nice.
"I did not pick up a club since the Ryder Cup until the day before the Turkish match, so I wasn't taking it that seriously," said McIlroy, who played down speculation he was about to switch to Nike in a multi-million-pound deal.
"These rumours have been going around for years and it seems to always come up at this time of the year," said the Northern Irishman, who will meet Woods in an 18-hole shootout at Jinsha Lake Golf Club in Zhengzhou next Monday.
"I've spoken to Tiger about it and we are both really excited as it will be the first time we will do something like this together, and hopefully the first of a few meetings," McIlroy said.
With four of the top five players in the world, 11 of the 12 triumphant Ryder Cup players and 20 of the top 30 players in the Race To Dubai, the elite 78-man BMW Masters would seem anything but normal for anyone but McIlroy and Ian Poulter.
"I've had a great couple of months," McIlroy said. "I've won the PGA Championship, had two straight FedEx Cup play-off wins and was part of an unbelievable Ryder Cup victory."
McIlroy won the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters last year, bagging a staggering £1.24 million when it was more a "vanity" event, but the tournament was quickly seized by the European Tour and sponsors BMW.
"I've great memories of Lake Malaren from last year and getting my first win in Asia," said McIlroy, who then went on to win the Hong Kong Open. "Last year I didn't know what to expect with a new golf course and I was pleasantly surprised.
"But with 20 of top 30 players in the Race To Dubai here it's going to be a lot tougher to win this year."
Ryder Cup hero Poulter said he was looking forward to a "normal" tournament after his inspirational performance at the Medinah Country Club in Chicago.
"It's good to get back to some sort of normality," Poulter said. "I went to the Bahamas to reflect on what happened. It was an historic week for the European team and a big highlight for me, playing as well as I did. It was pretty special."