Trailing by three shots at the start of the final round of the Hong Kong Open, Rory McIlroy shot a solid 65 to win by two to retain his No. 2 world ranking and keep the prospects of catching Luke Donald in the Race to Dubai. He also sealed the victory in style, holing out from the greenside bunker on 18 for birdie.
“One of the goals going out today was to win this tournament to keep myself in with a shout next week,” McIlroy said. “It’s very dependent on what Luke does because he’s got such a big lead but if I can somehow get myself into contention next week, you never know.
“Another little bit of motivation was that I woke up this morning and saw Lee Westwood shoot 62 in Sun City and I thought I really needed to win to stay above him in the world rankings. It was nice to be able to do both.
“I had a lot to play for, trying to keep my hopes alive for the Race to Dubai and seeing that I needed to go out and produce a really good score if I wanted to keep my No. 2 ranking.”
It makes perfect sense that Westwood almost leapfrogged Rory in the rankings after beating 11 guys in an exhibition. That’s an entirely different discussion, which I won’t get into right now.
Catching Donald will still be a long shot, with the world No. 1 leading the European Tour’s money list race by almost €800k. Donald, who is trying to become the first player to win the money title on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, has earned €3,322,644 this season, while McIlroy has made €2,642,167. To surpass Donald, Rory needs to win next week’s Dubai World Championship and hope for Luke to place 10th or worse.
So there’s still a chance? Yep, I wouldn’t count Rory out — he hasn’t finished outside of the top five in his last five starts. He’s said that his girlfriend, top-ranked tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, has been a motivator for him to reach the No. 1.
It’s pretty good to be Rory McIlroy right now.
(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)