Willett trails McIlroy by just €1,614 ahead of tomorrow’s start to the DP World Tour Championship at the Jumeriah Golf Estate.
The 28-year old Willett let slip the opportunity to go ahead of the absent McIlroy in finishing T28th in last week’s BMW Masters in Shanghai.
And despite not managing to also finish higher than T21st in four prior showings in Dubai, the son of a Sheffield preacher predicted problems over a decision some months ago by new European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley to allow the then injured McIlroy to contest 12 events this year - one less than the yearly mandatory number of 13.
“I’ve played 22 events this year and Rory has played 12, and Rory wins more money than anyone else playing less events, then that’s just good golf,” said Willett.
“But there’s still rules there to kind of abide by or otherwise they wouldn’t make rules.
“If rules were allowed to be broken all the time, then there’s no point in setting them in the first place.
“It was the first decision Keith (Pelley) had to make in becoming the new CEO of the Tour. It was a difficult one to have to make but then he made the correct decision.
“But then I spoke to him about it and down the line, it could be quite difficult.
“We all know if the Rory situation was to go ahead there needed to be a rule change, and will be a few more rule changes down the line.
“So it is what it is and it doesn’t change how we are going to approach this week and we’re just going to go out there and try and win.”
McIlroy, who has spent the past week at the Els Club in Dubai working on his game, is smart enough to ignore Willett’s bait.
“That’s the decision the European Tour came to and it’s great for me that I’m able to be here and compete this week,” said the current World No. 3.
“But when I had a chat with Keith Pelley in the summer, I said to him that playing was not about the bonus pool and just about me being able to compete here and try and win the Race to Dubai again.
“I will gladly take the trophy and they can keep the money and do whatever they want with it. It’s more about trying to win the Race to Dubai.”
McIlroy was full of praise for countryman Graeme McDowell who ended a 31-month PGA Tour drought on Monday in capturing the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.
“It was a fantastic win for G-Mac and great to see him win again as it has been a struggle for him this past season,” said McIlroy.
“I know he’s been speaking about his confidence has been low but the win in Mexico will be a huge lift for him, and he’s now turned a big corner heading into the new year especially with the manner of his victory, winning in a play-off and hitting that shot he did into the first extra hole.
“I’m delighted for G-Mac and it’s great he’s back into the winner’s circle.”