Rory McIlroy chasing five-win season, but not Race to Dubai title

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Rory McIlroy chasing five-win season, but not Race to Dubai title

Euro Tour

Rory McIlroy chasing five-win season, but not Race to Dubai title

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Rory McIlroy finds himself in uncharted territory on the eve of the $8 million DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. He doesn’t have a chance to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai despite a stellar season.

The world No. 2 lies sixth in the European Tour pecking order, but can’t become the No. 1 player because he’s too far behind leader Bernd Wiesberger.

McIlroy is a three-time European Tour No. 1. His focus this week is on winning the DP World for the third time. He’s quite happy to take a back seat to players he magnanimously feels deserve to be the 2019 European No. 1.

“I’ve won it three times.” McIlroy said. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to do it. I haven’t played enough counting European Tour events to have a chance. You look at someone like a Bernd Wiesberger that’s played 25, 26, 27 times, whatever it is (28). Those are the guys that deserve to be up there with a chance to win.”

McIlroy has found himself short of tournaments needed to catch Wiesberger because he wasn’t a European Tour member at the start of this season. McIlroy only took up membership in May, meaning a second-place finish in the WGC–Mexico Championship, T-9 in the WGC–Dell Technologies Match Play and T-21 in the Masters didn’t count towards his points total.

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The four-time major champion has no regrets.

“This year has been a great learning year for me in terms of knowing what works,” McIlroy added. “I feel like I changed my schedule up a good bit this year, and it helped, not traveling quite as much at the start of the year. Basing myself in Florida, where I now live the majority of the time and not having to travel too far from there. That definitely helps for the first few months of the year feeling settled, not crossing too many time zones.”

McIlroy is a four-time winner this year. Although he didn’t get his hands on a major championship, he feels the year has been a success.

“I’ve had a wonderful season this season and I feel like I’ve figured out a few things that really helped me. It’s been a good formula this year, and I don’t see any reason to change anything going into next year.”

The 30-year-old has made one significant change this week. Regular caddie Harry Diamond isn’t on the bag since his wife just gave birth to their first child, a girl they named Georgia Iris. Rory has handed his clubs to former Irish rugby international Niall O’Connor, and that means being a bit more proactive.

“Obviously I’ll maybe take on a little bit more responsibility than I usually do and jot stuff down,” he said. “It feels a little bit like when Harry first came on the bag a couple years ago. I took on a little more responsibility writing stuff in my yardage book and pacing stuff out. I actually quite enjoy that part

“Niall knows what it feels like in the heat of the battle. Obviously he doesn’t have 18-stone (252-pound) men blasting at him as he has in the past, it’s a little bit different.

“He’s a pretty good golfer himself. He’s played a lot of amateur tournaments in Ireland, so he knows the game well, and he knows what it’s like, how it feels to be in the heat of battle and be under pressure.”

McIlroy has only had one season where he won five times. That was in 2012. A fourth DP World Tour Championship win would help him match that five-win season, a win that, under other circumstances, would probably have helped him become European Tour No. 1 for 2019.

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