World number three Rory McIlroy said on Tuesday (17 November) he is eager to defend his Race to Dubai title and try to win the DP World Tour championship tournament too. McIlroy won the 2014 Race to Dubai championship and came second in the season-ending DP World Tour championship in Dubai. This year he wants to "do the Dubai double" and take both titles at once.
The Race to Dubai is decided according to winnings in qualifying tournaments. McIlroy has amassed £2,382,070 ($3,620,891) in winnings, despite his absence. Mathematically a handful of players could take the title but McIlroy is looking for a win to decide it at a stroke.
"It's always been a great place for me so it would be nice to do the Dubai double this year and pick up the Race to Dubai title with it," said McIlroy. "I didn't quite think I would be in this position coming into this event, especially after taking the week off last week but you know a couple of the other guys didn't capitalise on that in China thankfully – so I find myself in the position where it is totally in my hands.
"If I go out and win the tournament then I win the total thing no matter what anyone else does. And that is a nice position to be in. So obviously that is the main objective this week and I feel I am playing well enough to do that."
The circumstances for the Northern Irishman were very different this year. He has missed a large portion of the season with an ankle injury but has remained leader of the Race to Dubai despite his absence. Now he is back in Dubai, after a week off to recuperate, with a narrow lead over Race to Dubai contender Danny Willett, having thrown off the effects of recent food poisoning which disrupted his Turkish Open performance.
"I felt like it was still a positive week in some ways," McIlroy told reporters at the Jumeirah golf course. "And getting to Dubai and feeling at full strength and feeling 100% healthy I feel like I've got a great chance on a golf course that I've played very well at before."
Despite some objections from other players, McIlroy was granted the right by the European Tour to compete in the final qualifying events, despite not taking part in the full programme, due to his injury. McIlroy shrugged off any objections, saying he had performed better in 12 events than others in the full programme.
"If I can win more money in 12 events then someone can win in 23 I don't see any reason why. You know, I played half the events and won more money. Obviously you play majors and you play world golf championships but that's the decision that the European Tour came to and obviously it's great for me that I'm able to be here and compete this week," he said.
"I just want to win the tournament. I don't care who finishes second, who finishes third. If I'm the champion at the end of the week it means that I win the Race to Dubai and that's all I'm really thinking about."