McIlroy bows out but vows to up intensity


WORLD GOLF FINAL:IF HIS interest in the €3.8 million Turkish Airlines World Golf Final was finished before lunchtime yesterday, a perfunctory shake of the hands with Tiger Woods confirming a rather swift exit at the group phase, world number one Rory McIlroy left with a promise that his intensity levels would be raised significantly for upcoming end-of-season targets, which include his aim to top the money lists on both the US Tour and the European Tour.

Although ruling out any prospect of adding further tournaments to his schedule in the USA, where he currently holds an almost €1.5 million lead over Woods, McIlroy – on the wrong end of a drubbing in the final group match between the world’s top two players with Woods shooting a seven-under-par 64 to McIlroy’s 70 – observed he would “give it one last push” in his quest to achieve more despite the cylinders burning out.

“It’s been a great season, (but) I’m ready to be done. It’s such a long season these days. I feel like I’ve an obligation to play some of these events leading up to Dubai and personally I want to finish the season off well.

“It won’t be as tough (to raise the intensity levels). You’ve got world ranking points to play for. You’ve got Race to Dubai. I want to try and keep my lead in the world rankings.

“I’ve still a lot to play for. It won’t be as tough to get myself up for that as (it was) for this week,” said McIlroy, who also admitted he was considering further reducing his tour schedule next year.

“I’ve paced myself well this year, didn’t play too much at the start. Then, obviously, it’s been a very busy summer starting with the British Open, Akron, PGA, FedEx Cup, Ryder Cup. A busy stretch . . . I cut (schedule) down a little bit this year and I think next year I’ll probably cut it down again, try and play a maximum  of 22, 23 (tournaments).”

McIlroy’s mediocre performance in this eight-man event – the precursor to a new €5.4 million Turkish Open which will be the penultimate event on next year’s tour schedule – was quite at odds with some scintillating play from others, most notably Lee Westwood’s effort of 61 in accounting for Charl Schwartzel, who shot 67, in the first semi-final.

Not to be outdone, Justin Rose – who himself shot a 62 in the morning group phase – then usurped Woods in the second semi-final to set up an all-English showdown.

The defining moment in their contest came on the par-four 14th hole, where Rose holed out with a 110-yard approach with a 52-degree lob wedge for an eagle two and a two-shot swing. He shot 69 to Woods’ 70.

Westwood’s round, though, stole the show. In shooting a 61 that had the audacity to feature a double-bogey, Westwood – who hit a driver to the ninth green and holed from four feet for an eagle two – covered the last 13 holes in 10-under par.

“One of my top-five rounds (ever),” said Westwood. “My putting and short game is what’s pleased me the most . . . I didn’t really think about (the prospect of winning €1.1 million). I’ve been successful in golf and I’m in the fortunate position now of going to tournaments with the sole purpose of trying to win that tournament.”

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