McIlroy confident he can end year as European #1


Rory McIlroy, after electing not to board the Turkish Airlines Open, reckons he can climb to European No. 1 in next week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

 Rory McIlroy / Image from Getty Images
McIlroy enters this week’s penultimate Nedbank Challenge trailing by Euro 1.9m and in eighth place in the Race to Dubai behind Italy’s Francesco Molinari.
Molinari and the six others ahead of McIlroy on the money list, are not teeing-up in this week’s Gary Player hosted event, presenting McIlroy the chance of bridging the gap with a victory.
But even if McIlroy were to win this week and in Dubai, Molinari need only to finish second on his own there to end a remarkable 2018 in also becoming the first Italian to win the Race to Dubai title.
And while many questioned his absence last week in Turkey, there’s no questioning McIlroy’s determination ahead of teeing-up in the ‘Rainbow Nation’.
“I’ve come here with the goal, if I can get into that final group on Thursday with Frankie next week, that would be a good start,” he said.
“I’m going to need some great golf over the next two weeks but we’ll see what happens this week. I feel like my game’s in pretty good shape. I didn’t play great in China but a week off and just sort of reflecting on things, hopefully I can get off to a good start this week.”
McIlroy won earlier this year on the PGA Tour, while he’s had five top-5s in 11 European Tour showings, including second places at the Dubai Desert Classic, BMW PGA Championship and Open Championship.
And McIlroy’s not worried, he says, of a downturn in form including a poor showing in his last event in China.
“I’ve played good golf, I’ve played consistent golf,” he said.  “I’ve played in six final groups this year and I haven’t had a win out of any of those final groups. I think I played in four final groups in the previous two years combined, so it’s better.”

“I probably let a few slip through my fingers in terms of tournaments won: Dubai earlier this year, Wentworth a little bit, Masters obviously. There’s a few I feel like I could have challenged a bit more for.”
“Overall it’s been a consistent year. I’ve improved my World Ranking since the start of the year, I have a chance to get back into the top five this week and next week and it would be a solid year.”
“It wouldn’t have been the year that I would have envisioned at the start but you’re not going to have those years every single year that you play. All I can do is just keep practising and working hard and hopefully the results come.”
McIlroy played two rounds at this event in 2009 when it had a 12-man field but withdrew after two rounds and has yet to win in South Africa.
He came close at last season’s BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni and is delighted to be back on African soil.
“I have very fond memories of the SA Open at Glendower,” he said. “It was one of the coolest weeks I’ve had on Tour with just the scenes and the play-off and the crowds coming up 18.”

“I came obviously very close to a win that week and didn’t quite get it done. It would be nice to get a win down here finally.”
McIlroy heads a strong field of four Irish teeing-up at Sun City.
Irish tee times – (Irish time) 
Paul Dunne – 7.01am 
Shane Lowry – 7.12am 
Padraig Harrington – 7.34am
Rory McIlroy – 8.51am


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