Rory McIlroy will be an interested spectator as the first event of the European Tour’s Final Series gets under way in China today.
McIlroy holds a commanding lead of more than three million points over Sergio Garcia as he looks to win the Race to Dubai and PGA Tour money list titles for the second time in three years.
However, the world number one is missing both the BMW Masters and WGC-HSBC Champions events in Shanghai in order to prepare for a court case with his former management company, increasing the admittedly slim possibility of being overhauled by the likes of Garcia and current European number one Henrik Stenson.
Garcia and Stenson will not be at Lake Malaren either this week, with the Spaniard opting to compete in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia on the PGA Tour instead, while Stenson withdrew following the birth of his third child on Sunday.
Each event in the Final Series has a prize pool of 10 million points with 1,666,600 going to the winner, while McIlroy is guaranteed to earn at least the 27,170 points on offer for last place in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
That will take the 25-year-old’s total to just over 5.4million, meaning his rivals will need to have reached at least 3.8million before Dubai to have a chance of overhauling the four-time major winner.
For Garcia, who has committed to play in the HSBC Champions and the Turkish Airlines Open, that equates to a runner-up and top-five finish, while Stenson will need even better results to keep his hopes alive.
With so many points on offer, all of the top 20 players have a chance of being within striking distance of McIlroy with a first and second place finish over the next three weeks, but eighth-placed Justin Rose has other goals in mind.
The top 15 players after Dubai will share a bonus pool of $5m US dollars and Rose is also looking to move up from his current position of sixth in the world rankings.
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