McIlroy can rest on his laurels as Race to Dubai already done and dusted
Final Series in the desert a foregone conclusion as Irishman has won over twice as much as his nearest pursuer, Sergio Garcia
Rory McIlroy sits on the 17th tee as he waits to play his shot during the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at The Old Course in St Andrews, Scotland. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Maybe, it would seem, the gerrymandering that goes on with the PGA Tour’s end-of-season playoffs for the FedEx Cup is the right way; at least in terms of excitement generated. For, yet again, Rory McIlroy – through his sheer brilliance – has sucked the life out of the Race to Dubai title weeks and weeks before the European Tour ever gets to the desert.
Quite simply, since this Final Series is based on money won, he is uncatchable.
McIlroy’s runner-up finish to Oliver Wilson in the Dunhill Links brought the Northern Irishman to €5,400,700 in the latest order of merit standings which is more than double the amount accumulated by his nearest pursuer, Sergio Garcia.
The world number one takes a short, well-earned break from competition this week before reappearing in next week’s Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda (which is non-counting as far as official prizemoney is concerned) before another short hiatus and then resuming play in China later this month.
There he can set his sights on breaking his own record of prizemoney won in a single season when he does get back to full playing duty in the BMW Masters in Lake Malaren.
That first of back-to-back events in China is a $7 million event and the first of the European Tour’s so-called “Final Series” and will act as the start of a run-in to the season that will see McIlroy play the following week’s HSBC Champions tournament and finish off at the DP World Championship before heading to defend the Australian Open on the Australasian Tour.
In topping the European Tour money list in 2012, McIlroy won €5,519,118 to set a new record and he is on target to set a new mark this season after a dominant campaign that so far has brought four titles – the BMW PGA, the British Open, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA – to set himself apart from everyone else.
It means McIlroy will head to Dubai next month assured of the money title and guaranteed to add Player of the Year award on this side of the Atlantic to the one he picked up on the PGA Tour.
“I’m really happy with how I’m playing and that’s the big thing, and that’s what will see me through for hopefully a prolonged period of time. Even if you don’t get the wins, you know that you’re still playing well and you’re going to keep giving yourself chances,” said McIlroy, whose bid to claim the Dunhill Links was undone by putting into the infamous Road Hole bunker at the penultimate hole of his final round.
Of that setback, McIlroy was philosophical. “It’s easy to accept these things when you have two Majors in the bag,” he said.
For sure, McIlroy’s play this season – just one missed cut, ironically at the Irish Open of which he has now become the official host – has been consistently brilliant. “My mindset has been really good this year. I’ve found some sort of calmness on the course or inner peace or whatever you want to call it. I’m really just going out there every round that I play in and enjoying it and putting everything into it. It’s working,” he added.
While McIlroy has a few days off this week, the Portugal Masters in the Algarve represents different opportunities for the ten Irish in the field. Peter Lawrie and Kevin Phelan are battling to retain their tour cards with tournaments running out.
In contrast, Pádraig Harrington, having gotten a taste of contending again in the Dunhill, will be looking to bring that momentum with him in his bid to get into the top-60 who make it to the Race to Dubai finale, the DP World Championship.
For Shane Lowry, whose tied-sixth finish in the Dunhill was his fifth top-10 of the season, there is the continued incentive of breaking into the world’s top-50. The Offalyman has moved to 53rd in the latest rankings and has a busy schedule ahead of him which takes in the Portugal Masters followed by the World Matchplay in England next week and then all four of the “Final Series” event s up to Dubai.
European Tour money winners
2013 Henrik Stenson €4,103,796
2012 Rory McIlroy €5,519,118
2011 Luke Donald €5,323,400
2010 Martin Kaymer €4,461,011
2009 Lee Westwood €4,237,762
2008 Robert Karlsson €2,732,748
2007 Justin Rose €2,944,945
2006 Pádraig Harrington €2,489,337
2005 Colin Montgomerie €2,794,223
2004 Ernie Els €4,061,905
*Rory McIlroy is currently on €5,400,700