McIlroy ready for make or break week in China
McIlroy still needs to climb inside top 60 in Race to Dubai standings
Jason Dufner, Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose pose for photographers during a photo call at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Photograph: AP
Rory McIlroy has not won all season, has gone from world number one to sixth in the rankings and is 62nd on a European Tour money list which he won last year to go with the US equivalent and five victories, including a second major title.
But the bookmakers surprisingly agree with a buoyant McIlroy’s assertion that he is more likely to win the WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai this week than miss out on the season finale in Dubai.
“It’s a big week obviously, it’s sort of make or break,” said McIlroy, who faces a field featuring 40 of the world’s top 50 at Sheshan International Golf Club.
“If I don’t play good enough here, then there’s a good chance I won’t play in Dubai. I think there’s a bigger chance of me winning this tournament than not playing in Dubai, I feel.”
With next week’s Turkish Airlines Open currently not on his schedule, McIlroy needs to climb into the top 60 on the Race to Dubai this week to have a chance of qualifying for the DP World Tour Championship in November.
The 24-year-old is less than $4,000 behind Garth Mulroy in 60th place, but by not playing in Turkey will need to win much more than that to feel safe.
The first prize of just over €1 million would of course take care of everything and the two-time major winner can take confidence from his one-shot victory over Tiger Woods in their 18-hole exhibition match at Mission Hills on Monday.
“I’m looking forward to going out there and playing well,” added McIlroy, who has been backed by Woods to get back to winning ways before the end of the season.
“I feel like I’m capable of winning this golf tournament and I feel like my game’s coming together nicely.
“I did a little short game work over the last couple days and I feel like if I can get that part of my game where it needs to be, then I’ve got a good chance.
“I’m really glad that this tournament is back here at Sheshan,” he added. “It’s a golf course that I’ve done well on, as you’ve said, and it’s a golf course that I really like. It’s one of my favourite venues of the year quite honestly.
“Of course I expect myself to be a lot higher than that (62nd). I won the Race to Dubai last year and I was second in 2011 and I was second in 2009. So I’ve been a factor in it for the last few years and to be down where I am obviously doesn’t feel too good and is a reflection of how my year has gone.
“It’s just the reality and the reality is I haven’t played well enough to be a factor.”