The Irishman claimed Sunday’s lucrative €1.4m Shanghai Masters but has set his sights on claiming an even bigger prize in the coming months. And uppermost in his sights is Englishman Luke Donald, who currently occupies top spot in the world rankings.
McIlroy is using the confidence gained from claiming one of the richest prizes in world sport to his benefit this weekend at the WGCHSBC-Champions event, also in Shanghai, to earn vital world ranking points.
The 22-year-old impressed in his come-from-behind victory at Lake Malaren over American Anthony Kim, who crumbled on the first extra hole of their play-off. The financial reward for victory may have been lucrative but the event’s lack of official tour sanctioning means McIlroy received no world ranking points for his success.
Therefore he is hoping to win at Sheshan International Golf Course to close the gap on Donald’s €800,000 lead in the year-end Race to Dubai, and give him a platform to also try and overhaul the Englishman as world number one in 2012.
“I want to get closer to Luke,” McIlroy said.
“I know he’s not playing next week and I feel I am playing well enough to contend there.
“A big week could put me in the frame to win the Race to Dubai.”
Victory in China was just McIlroy’s fourth win since turning professional in 2007, with his biggest triumph coming at the US Open earlier this year. McIlroy is not satisfied with that rate of return and wants to start picking up multiple titles every season.
“I’ll be the first to say I haven’t won enough in my four years as a pro,” he said.
“I should have won a lot more. But today was great for me. To win from that position [one behind with four holes to play] gives me a lot of satisfaction. I don’t care how I win as long as my name is on that trophy at the end of the day.”
Meanwhile, Sergio Garcia has decided to rest rather than go looking for a third successive victory at this week’s world championship in Shanghai.
The 31-year-old’s victory in the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama qualified him for the WGC-HSBC Champions event he won in 2008, but his place goes instead to American Jim Furyk.
Garcia is back into the world’s top 20 after taking his home Castello Masters by a runaway 11-shot margin and then beating fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez by one.
Garcia has risen yet again after winning his second successive European Tour event at the Andalucian Masters. The Spaniard clinched a one-shot victory at Valderrama after some clutch putting during the closing stages, elevating him to 18th in the world and earning his place in this week’s Champions event, which he won in its former guise in 2008.
WORLD RANKINGS: 1 Luke Donald (Eng), 2 Lee Westwood (Eng), 3 Rory McIlroy (IRL), 4 Dustin Johnson (USA), 5 Steve Stricker (USA), 6 Martin Kaymer (Ger), 7 Jason Day (Aus), 8 Adam Scott (AUS), 9 Webb Simpson (USA), 10 Matt Kuchar (USA), 11 Phil Mickelson (USA), 12 Nick Watney (USA), 13 KJ Choi (KOR), 14 Charl Schwartzel (SAF), 15 Graeme McDowell (IRL), 16 Bubba Watson (USA), 17 Justin Rose (ENG), 18 Sergio Garcia (ESP), 19 David Toms (USA), 20 Hunter Mahan (USA).