By his own admission, Rory McIlroy has not been at his best around the Earth Course this week.
But then, he said, that was kind of to be expected. The world No 2, crowned Race to Dubai champion for a fifth time before a ball had been struck at the DP World Tour Championship (DPWTC), has been slightly below par the first few days.
Not literally, mind. McIlroy shot a bogey-free 65 on Saturday, embellished significantly by a birdie-eagle finish, to sit on a wholly respectable 8-under par. The only problem being, it left him eight more behind leader Matt Wallace, in a tie for 18th.
Most probably, and primarily because of his 71-72 across the opening two days, the two-time tournament winner is too far back for a tilt at title No 3.
But having taken time off since his starring role in Europe’s Ryder Cup win in Italy in October, McIlroy can be forgiven for displaying a few signs of rust.
“I think so,” the four-time major champion said. “I haven't done much at all after the Ryder Cup. Tried to put in a little bit of practice over the last couple of weeks, but I sort of jammed my wrist, as well, a couple weeks ago and that limited how many balls I hit, too.
“Yeah, just sort of came in not as prepared as I could have been or should have been. But feel like I'm starting to find my feet a little bit after a few days.”
Indeed, McIlroy has been sporting a bit of tape on his right wrist this week. Hopefully, though, it holds up when he has to hoist the pretty hefty Race to Dubai trophy, no matter how he finishes, on Sunday.
“It's the last round of the year,” McIlroy said of the final 18 holes of the season finale. “Go out and try to shoot a good score and get myself a decent finish.
“I would say, as well, coming into the week, already having wrapped up the Race to Dubai, I'd say my expectation levels weren't super high.
“But still, every day I go out there, I go out there and try to do my absolute best. It was nice to play a little bit more like me today.”