Nike sideshow won’t ruffle McIlroy in Shanghai

Rory McIlroy returns to competition as the star of this week’s BMW Masters at the Lake Malaren Club in suburban Shanghai alongside 10 of his victorious European Ryder Cup colleagues.

There’s also four of the world’s top-five players, 28 of the leading 30 on the Race to Dubai and 14 Chinese- born players teeing up in this new European Tour event.

While speculation is rife McIlroy is about to switch to Nike at the start of next season, rumours abound also the 23-year old has just bought himself a $10m (€7.6m) palatial abode at West Palm Beach. However he went to work for a reputed $1m (€768,000) appearance fee two days ahead of the Shanghai event joining Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer and Chinese number one Ashun Wu in a press conference.

After such an indifferent showing last fortnight in Turkey, where McIlroy was soundly beaten by Tiger Woods and knocked out of the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final, he is back to work focussed on ending his fifth full season in the pro ranks for a first time as European number one.

“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,” he said.

“I have finished second in the Race to Dubai two of the last three years so I would to knock that off and try and do what Luke (Donald) did last year and win the money on both tours.

“I’ve got Justin (Rose) and Branden (Grace) right behind me and there is still some big-money events to play, so I’ve four events left and if I do play well in those four events, hopefully I can achieve that goal.”

McIlroy currently leads Justin Rose by €437,334 and with Grace in third place €785,746 behind.

However both Rose and Grace, along with the next seven on the money list could go ahead of McIlroy if successful in capturing this week’s $1.166m (€894,491) first prize cheque.

And McIlroy also was quizzed on speculation he is about to switch at the end of the season to a new multi-million dollar club deal with sports giant, Nike.

“I’ll have my management company and everyone else on that side deal with endorsements and everything like that,” he said.

“I’m just trying to do what I am doing. I’m playing golf and enjoying my life, and if that makes me more marketable, then that’s great.”

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