Rory McIlroy didn’t need to hear the question in full. The word “frustration” was enough for him to deliver his answer. “No,” he said, smiling, knowing that he was about to be asked how he felt about the fact he is agonisingly out of the reckoning in the battle to be Europe’s No 1 this season.
McIlroy heads into the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, which gets underway at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai tomorrow, sitting sixth in the Race to Dubai rankings, having climbed into the top ten on the back of his win in the HSBC Champions in China last month.
His race is run, though, in the title battle because he is 2,039.1 points adrift of the leader, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, with 2,000 points up for grabs in the final Rolex Series event of the campaign in the UAE.
Wiesberger, though, but he can still be overtaken by four others – Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry and Matthew Fitzpatrick.
“I’ve won it three times,” added McIlroy in explaining why he doesn’t feel a sense of frustration of being unable to add to his Order of Merit title triumphs in 2012, 2014 and 2015. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to do it, but I just haven’t played enough counting European Tour events to have a chance, so no.”
Due to the fact he didn’t take up his membership until the spring as he concentrated on the PGA Tour in the early part of the season, McIlroy has only teed up in 12 events on the European Tour this year whereas Wiesberger is making his 29th appearance on the circuit this week. “Those are the guys that deserve to be up there with a chance to win,” said McIlroy of that statistic.
If he’d taken up that membership at the start of the year, the Northern Irishman would have been in with a chance of that No 1 spot as a second-place finish in the WGC-Mexico Championship and tie for ninth the WGC-Match Play would both have counted.
“I’ve earned enough money this year,” declared the world No 2, smiling, having hit the jackpot by winning the Tour Championship in Atlanta at the end of the PGA Tour campaign. “I’m fine. It (the Race to Dubai) wasn’t on my radar at the start of the year. It wasn’t on my radar going into China, even. I’ve still got a chance to win this tournament, and that’s important to me. That’s enough for me to be here.”
The 30-year-old won this event in 2012 and 2015 and is now chasing the biggest first prize in golf of €2.7 million. “I’m looking forward to the week,” he said. “I’ve played well this year. Four wins have been great and it would be great to put myself in a position to try to win a fifth. I feel the way I’ve been playing over the last few months, if I just go out and do my thing, hopefully I give myself another chance and finish the season off on a high note.”