Rory McIlroy motivated to win third DPWTC title despite already securing Race to Dubai

Northern Irishman tops the end-of-season points list for a fifth time before the final event has started

Rory McIlroy tees off during the Pro-Am prior to the DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. Getty Images
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Rory McIlroy said he remains fully focused on winning the DP World Tour Championship this week having already secured the end-of-season Race to Dubai title before a ball has been hit.

McIlroy, 33, is guaranteed to end the DP World Tour year at the top of the season-long points list for the fifth time in his career following previous triumphs in 2012, 2014, 2015 and last season.

The Northern Irishman was assured of top spot after results went his way at last week's Nedbank Challenge in South Africa. McIlroy holds an unassailable 2,083-point lead over second-placed Jon Rahm, with 2,000 points awarded to the DPWTC winner in Dubai.

Key to McIlroy's fifth Race to Dubai success has been the pair of Rolex Series event victories at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and the Scottish Open, and the strong showings in the majors; he finished inside the top seven in three of the four big tournaments this year.

"In fairness, I probably would have liked to have done it another way," McIlroy said on Tuesday. "But I've played well when I've come back over to the European Tour this year, won two Rolex Series Events and had some other really high finishes in tournaments that give a lot of points.

"It's really nice to have my name on the Harry Vardon Trophy for the fifth time and just be one behind Seve [Ballesteros] and still a few behind Monty (Colin Montgomerie)."

Despite already claiming one of the two trophies he was in contention for this week before the tournament has even started, McIlroy insisted that has not diminished his motivation. The world No 3 is aiming to complete the DPWTC-Race to Dubai double for the third time, having won both titles in 2012 and 2015.

"I knew that as long Adrian [Meronk] and Ryan [Fox] ... didn't break into sort of within that 2,000-point barrier, I knew not that I could come here and relax – I still wanted to come here and win this golf tournament; this golf course sets up well for me and it's a place I've always done well at – but it's nice to come here with at least that off my mind so I can just concentrate on the golf tournament."

In addition to his two wins on the DP World Tour, McIlroy has enjoyed another impressively consistent year, with a further victory at the CJ Cup and 13 top 10s in 18 events on the PGA Tour.

The highlight, though, came in Rome as McIlroy delivered his best-ever Ryder Cup points haul to lead Europe to an emphatic victory over the United States. It was a markedly different picture from two years ago at Whistling Straits, where McIlroy broke down in tears following a historic beating.

That said, the Northern Irishman went another season without a major. Next season will be 10 years since McIlroy won the last of his four majors at the 2013 PGA Championship.

Assessing his season, McIlroy said: "Probably give it a 7 out of 10. Played good golf. I had the two wins. I had my best-ever Ryder Cup, which feels like a win to me, especially coming off the back of Whistling Straits.

"I've been happy with the year. If I looked back on one thing, I'll rue that miss at LA [at the US Open]. I had a great opportunity there to pick up another major and I didn't.

"But I'm still not going to let that take away from the fact that it's been another really consistent, solid year with some really good performances.

"I'm feeling like my game is in as good of shape as it has ever been throughout my 16, 17-year career. I'm happy with that, and will try to finish this year off on a high and play well this week and reset and get ready for 2024."

Updated: November 14, 2023, 2:16 PM