In what represented one of the grandest understatements of the week, Rory McIlroy reckons he has “a little left in the tank” in his bid to secure the most Order of Merit titles in history.
Especially when you consider he’s reeling them off almost at a clip of one every two years.
At 34, McIlroy has snaffled Race to Dubai crown No 5, moving him to within one of superstar Seve Ballesteros and three of the incomparable Colin Montgomerie.
McIlroy, who won his first in 2012, didn’t even need to actually show at the DP World Tour’s season-ending event this week, since his European No 1 status was sealed last Sunday, while he presumably had his feet up.
Yet he plans to keep at least one on the pedal as he chases down Montgomerie's milestone.
“Still got a little bit left in the tank,” McIlroy said on Sunday after signing off his 2023 with a tied-22nd at the DP World Tour Championship. “I think I've still got a good eight to 10 years left in me where I can play at the top, top level.
“I'd like to think I'm going to challenge, at least try to get past Seve and then try to get past Monty as well. It's certainly a goal of mine for the rest of my career to do something like that. It would mean a lot to me.”
The 2023 Race to Dubai trophy was sealed, in large part, courtesy of two Rolex Series victories. The Dubai Desert Classic in late January represented, remarkably for a man of his exceptional talent, McIlroy’s first of that elevated bracket of tournaments. The Northern Irishman then added the Genesis Scotland Open in July in spectacular fashion when he birdied the closing two holes.
Those, and a runner-up at the US Open, top sevens at both the US PGA Championship and the Open, and a tied-3rd at the WGC Match-play, contributed sizeably to McIlroy's latest Order of Merit crown.
It served, also, as a concrete indicator of the world No 2's dazzling consistency this campaign.
"Over the last 10 years, I've won eight season-long titles between America and here, so it just shows my level of consistency," McIlroy said.
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“I said to [caddie] Harry [Diamond] on the last green, there's a few guys that are able to beat me one week or the next, but I don't think there's a lot of people that can beat me throughout the entire season.
“It's just about trying to be a little more clinical when I get to those weeks where I have chances to win. Overall, it's been another really solid year. Hopefully more of the same going into next year and beyond.”