Jamie Donaldson, Sergio Garcia and Marcel Siem will have to achieve something only Rory McIlroy himself has done this season to deny the world number one a second Race to Dubai title in three years.
McIlroy did not play in either of the first two Final Series events in China as he prepares for his court case with a former management company, and will again be absent from this week’s Turkish Airlines Open.
However, the 25-year-old’s four victories this season – including his third and fourth major titles in the Open and US PGA Championship – mean he still has an almost insurmountable lead at the top of the standings.
One of his three nearest challengers has to win both in Turkey and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to have a chance of overhauling the McIlroy, who is the only player to win back-to-back titles on the European Tour in 2014.
American Billy Horschel took advantage of the reset points system to win the last two events of the FedEx Cup play-offs and the overall title this year, but Garcia believes there would be nothing wrong with McIlroy wrapping up the title with an event to spare.
“I’m a big believer that if you have done something extraordinary to be able to achieve that, to win the Race to Dubai before the last tournament happens, why shouldn’t you be the winner,” Garcia said.
“I think Rory did something quite extraordinary this season and this summer more than anything, and maybe he deserves to be the Race to Dubai champion, even before we play the Dubai World Championship next week. There’s no doubt that it’s nice to be a part of it, to have still a little chance of winning it. It’s obviously very difficult but to at least be in the race for it and have a possibility of becoming the Race to Dubai champion, it’s something that you look forward to and I’m going to need a couple of really, really good weeks – we’ll try it until it’s over.”
McIlroy will finish the season with at least 5,427,869 points – his current total plus last place points in Dubai – but if Donaldson won both remaining events he would have 5,790,483 points and McIlroy would therefore need to finish fifth or better in Dubai to stay ahead of the Welshman.
If Garcia won both, McIlroy would require a top-seven finish in Dubai while if BMW Masters winner Siem won in Turkey and Dubai, McIlroy would need to finish 17th or better over the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
McIlroy’s Ryder Cup team-mate Lee Westwood is also happy the four-time major winner could arrive in Dubai next week with the title already secured, adding: “I’m a big fan of somebody showing the consistency over the whole year and winning it. If you look at Rory’s season, he’s won two major championships, a World Golf Championship (event) and our flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, which is a phenomenal year.
“If you put that up in somebody’s career, those four tournaments, that would be a good career, and he’s done that in six months, basically.
“Occasionally somebody will do something extraordinary and deserves to win the money list this year. I have no problems with it being over before the final event, especially this year with what Rory has done.
“It’s certainly good to have a dominant player. I think it ups everybody else’s game and ups the level that everybody else plays at and is good for the people to watch.
“Certainly when I first came on Tour, Monty (Colin Montgomerie) was the one that everybody was shooting at, and there’s been different people over the years, and now it’s Rory’s turn where he turns up at a tournament and if he plays well, he’s going to be towards the top of the leaderboard. Whether he wins or not is another thing but he will certainly be in contention.”
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