Rory McIlroy has the hunger to win Race to Dubai at DP World Tour Championship

After recovering from a bout of food poisoning, the world No 3 is raring to go at Jumeirah Golf Estates and has his sights set firmly on the Race to Dubai title.

Rory McIlroy leads the Race to Dubai from Danny Willett. Getty Images
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DUBAI // When Rory McIlroy sat on the dais in the interview room next to the 18th green at the Earth Course, he reflected that he was in a nice position.

He could have been referring to any manner of things: Multiple millions in the bank, age 26; four major trophies in the cabinet; two Race to Dubai titles in the space of three years, and another one beckoning now.

Or just being able to enjoy the simple pleasure of taking a helicopter back from morning practice to beat the traffic.

Yep, nice position to be in, that.

A lead, albeit a slender one, at the top of the Race to Dubai rankings, and thus the knowledge his immediate destiny is in his own hands, on a course he has torn up before.

That is a handy situation to be in, too.

In fact, though, the Northern Irishman was referring to the fact a recent bout of food poisoning means he does not need to worry about watching his weight at present.

He lost 4.5 kilogram’s because of the effects of the club sandwich ordered from room service in China earlier this month. As such, he can tuck in to whatever food takes his fancy and call it recovery.

“It is a nice position to be in,” he said, at the start of a week which will decide the winner of the 2015 Race to Dubai.

It sounds like the start of a football song: “He eats what he likes. He wins when he likes ...”

And he plays when he likes, too. McIlroy was given special dispensation to complete his season here, and play for the bonus pool of cash, despite not competing in the requisite 13 tournaments on the European Tour. The DP World Tour Championship will be his 12th.

McIlroy missed three playing engagements this summer when he injured an ankle playing football.

He also opted to rest last weekend, while his nearest rivals for the Order of Merit title were playing at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, the third of four Final Series tournaments.

Despite his limited output, he has still enjoyed maximum income. The world No 3 holds a 1,613-point lead over Danny Willett at the top of the standings. That may be slender, but he has played 11 less competitions in accruing that advantage.

“If I can win more money in 12 events than someone can win in 23, I don’t see any reason why I cannot play,” McIlroy said of the exemption Keith Pelley, the Tour’s chief executive, granted to him.

“I played half the events and won more money. I know, obviously you play majors and World Golf Championships, but that’s the decision the European Tour came to. It’s great for me that I’m able to be here and compete this week.

“It’s not about the bonus pool, it’s just about being able to compete here and play to try and win the Race to Dubai again. I’d gladly take the trophy and they can keep the money and do whatever they want with it.”

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Before McIlroy spoke, Pelley had also confirmed changes to the membership regulations for next season. The players will now only be required to play in a minimum of five European Tour-sanctioned tournaments.

“I feel it’s very important that some of our strongest members, if they fall out of the top 50, based on their current scenario of playing two tours, have the best opportunity to retain their membership,” Pelley said.

“So it wasn’t something we took lightly, but we believed it was the right decision for the European Tour.”

Willett, the closest and most likely challenger at the top of the standings this week, believes McIlroy will have benefited greatly from having last week off from competing.

The Englishman said he has one aim at Juemirah Golf Estates, namely winning the season-ending tournament, but “if you fail at winning, just try and beat Rory”.

“I appreciate that him playing makes a massive difference for the Tour, and you have to kind of let him off with the events,” Willett said.

“But certainly he has more of an advantage over the guys who have played all three Finals Series and this will be their fourth.

“There’s a lot of travelling, a lot of golf, time changes, sleeping patterns, everything like that can really take its toll, especially at the end of the season.

“At the beginning of the season, maybe not, but this is the 52nd week of the season and I think having the week off might have benefited him.”

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