McIlroy managed to birdie two of his closing three holes for a one under par share of 27th place, 10 shots behind Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano who, despite a double bogey at the last, captured the first of the four Final Series events.
The double Major winning McIlroy went straight for Pudong Airport and a two-and-a-half flight south to Hainan Island for his ‘Match at Mission Hills’ showdown today against world number one Tiger Woods.
Woods will be looking to exact revenge after losing out by a stroke in last year’s duel at Lake Jinsha.
However, unlike last year when McIlroy and Woods attended a gala dinner and relaxed together in a hotel karaoke bar into the small hours of the next morning, McIlroy has vowed to return to Shanghai and prepare for this week’s €6.1m WGC-HSBC Champions event.
“I know the match with Tiger will be a busy day, but that’s fine and that’s expected,” he said.
“But, as long as it doesn’t cut into my preparations for this week, and while I am supposed to stay down in Hainan Island for the second night I’m going to come back to Shanghai and get a good night’s sleep.”
McIlroy’s mid-field finish has seen him move up just one spot to 62nd on the Race to Dubai and two places shy of qualifying for the defence of his season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Pádraig Harrington was two under after five holes but doubled the sixth and ninth holes in a round of 73 to finish tied with McIlroy. “I just was well out of sorts today and there was a lot going on out there with a lot of movement outside the ropes,” said Harrington who has moved to 67th on the Race to Dubai.
Shane Lowry was buoyed by a fourth round 65 for a two under tally and, like Harrington, also has this week off before he also travels out to Turkey.
Paul McGinley ended his round with a round of 73 for a three over par tally while Graeme McDowell remains second on the Race to Dubai despite a lowly 53rd finish in Shanghai.