Lap of honour for McIlroy as Race over before scheduled Dubai finale
Irishman’s remarkable season ensures Tour’s final tournament in effect a dead rubber
Rory McIlroy: will pick up prizemoney of over €1 million for his Race to Dubai victory. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images
He did so in spite of some late gerrymandering to enhance the points on offer in the “Final Series” in a bid to take it right to the death, to make McIlroy’s life difficult.
The decision to enhance the points – as against straight prize money won – came as a surprise to the vast majority of tour players, who only became aware of it ahead of the final run-in.
It says so much for McIlroy’s season on the golf course that, even though he missed the first three of the four events that make up that series, he remained so far ahead of everyone else. And, yet, the flipside of the coin is that system as it stands is neither one thing nor another. It is not play-offs like the FedEx Cup where there are reduced fields week-on-week up to the Tour Championship. Neither is it as fair as the old system.
Players only learned of the enhanced points available – as distinct from euro won – in late October.
As Scottish player Marc Warren claimed on hearing of the changes: “the four Final Series events are big enough in their own right without getting falsified by a ridiculous amount of points being up for grabs . . . guys I’ve spoken to aren’t very happy with it. They are baffled, to be honest”.
The late changes benefitted some – like Marcel Siem who made a giant leap on the basis of 1.6 million points he took for winning the BMW Masters, the first of the final four events – and seemed to penalise others, among them Shane Lowry who was leapfrogged by a number of players due to the enhanced points. Of course some would contend the enhanced points incentivised everyone and it was up to the player to deliver.
But McIlroy was the best player of the year in Europe – winning two Majors, the British Open and the US PGA, along with the WGC-Bridgestone and the Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA – and he fully deserved to top the Race to Dubai standings.
But, also, the fact that the Tour Championship is the only event of the final four that he has managed to tee it up in also diluted the whole run-in. Surely, under whatever restructuring takes place, and in fairness to sponsors, players should be compelled to play in more than one of the four.
McIlroy has been in Dubai practising for over a week and is intent on claiming a fifth title of the year. And at least he is turning up in Dubai – ten years ago, when Ernie Els topped the moneylist, he skipped the season-ending Volvo Masters.
In a statement following his confirmation as Race to Dubai winner, McIlroy acknowledged this as “the best season of my career by a long way” and referred to the four week stretch in the summer when he won the British Open, the Bridgestone and the US PGA in successive outings as a time when he played “the best golf of my life, so I feel like I’ve really earned the Race to Dubai”.
McIlroy’s year’s work won’t end in Dubai. The world number one will defend his Australian Open title at The Australian Club from Nov 27th-30th.
McIlroy will be joined in Dubai by Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry and Michael Hoey. Lowry and Hoey, troubled by a stomach bug, both played in Turkey.
Lowry has slipped to 17th in the Race to Dubai standings, and needs to get back into the top-15 if he is to claim some of the €4.0 million bonus pool. McIlroy, as winner of the order of merit, is guaranteed the top bonus of over €1.0 million. However, the pool extends down to 15th place, for which there is a prize of €80,000.