World number one Rory McIlroy has set his sights on ending his best-ever season on a high by finishing the year as European top dog.
Despite four weeks of competition in the United States ahead of the Ryder Cup, McIlroy continues to lead the Race to Dubai despite now being under serious threat from South Africa’s Branden Grace.
McIlroy returns to Europe at this week’s Turkish Airlines World Golf Final, which also features Tiger Woods. However he will not return to regular European Tour competition until the Asian Masters in Shanghai later this month.
Grace captured his fourth European Tour win this year when he led from start-to-finish to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday at St. Andrews.
The win propelled Grace into third place on the European money list behind second placed Justin Rose of England and McIlroy, with some six weeks remaining in the season.
“The big goal for me in what is left in the season is to keep the level up and try to win the Race to Dubai“
The trio will compete at Shanghai before contesting the HSBC Champions title at Mission Hills in Shenzhen.
After a season in which he’s won a second Major and set the world alight in winning three other events on the PGA Tour, including two within the space of three events in the FedEx Cup Play Off Series, McIlroy is determined to end his fifth full year in the pro ranks on a high by being crowned European No. 1.
“The big goal for me in what is left in the season is to keep the level up and try to win the Race to Dubai,” he said.
“I have a little bit of a lead at the moment and I came so close in ’09 finishing second behind Lee (Westwood) and then came close again by finishing third last year behind Luke (Donald).
“But if I can play the next few weeks the way I have been and finish off the Race to Dubai successfully it would be a great way to cap off my great season.”
Grace said on Sunday at St. Andrews that he now has McIlroy in his sights. The Northern Irishman responded by saying Grace has played great golf this year to win four times, “so he’s playing great.”
“But we still have some big events coming up with some big prize money, so there’s a lot can happen and all I am focused on doing is finishing off the season as well as I can,” McIlroy said.
“And if I can play as good as I can hopefully I can wrap-up the Race to Dubai title.”