Rory McIlroy set the Race to Dubai alight with a brilliant nine under 63 earning him fourth place in the WGC-HSBC Champions.

Rory McIlroy has Dubai on his mindThe Holywood starlet, 20, fired the lowest final round of his career to scorch up the leaderboard and finish just two shots behind winner Phil Mickelson at Sheshan International.

The Ulster ace banked €211,988 to move from third to second in the Race to Dubai standings and is now just €52,320 behind pace-setter Lee Westwood with this week’s Hong Kong Open and the season-ending Dubai World Championship to go.

Believing he now as momentum on his side in the race to become the youngest European No 1 in history, McIlroy said: "That was probably one of my best last rounds of my pro career given that is a World Golf Championship and considering the quality of the players ahead of me at the start of the day.

"I seemed to have got into a habit of shooting good last days to get myself up there, so it was nice to shoot a good low one.

"I wasn't happy with my game on Thursday. I was a little bit tired, a bit grumpy. But I did some hard work on the range on Thursday night and it’s paid off.

"I don’t know if it will happen like this every week but it’s nice to see results very quickly.

"Hopefully it's a bit of a springboard into the next two weeks and I’m looking forward to it now.”

McIlroy was nine shots off the lead starting the day but hit an incredible seven birdies in his first eight holes and ten in total for a nine under par effort.

Westwood closed with a 71 to finish on 11 under while Padraig Harrington conceded that his Race to Dubai bid was over despite a 67 that boosted him to tied 25th on six under.

Harrington said: "The Race to Dubai is gone and such is life. It was nice to finish with a sub-par round but I really should have started out like that."

McIlroy outscored a misfiring Tiger Woods by NINE shots with the world No 1 slipping from second to tied sixth after a 72.

Woods said: "Today was anything that could go wrong went wrong for me today.

"I didn't really envision shooting even par today. I would have had to have shot 67 to get into a playoff. So the guys took it deep, and I didn't."

Mickelson led by two shots from Woods and Nick Watney starting the day with McIlroy nine shots off the pace in a share of 17th.

But the youngster birdied the first and second, bogeyed the third and then reeled off five birdies in a row to go out in 30 and get within two of the lead.

Japan’s Daisuke Maruyama set a course record 63 earlier in the day before McIlroy picked up three more birdies on his back nine to equal it and set the clubhouse target at 14 under par.

But the Irish star came up two shots short of forcing a play-off as Ernie Els matched the course record with a 63 to finish on 16 under.

That meant a nervous finish for Mickelson, who trailed Els by a shot with three holes to play.

The South African bogeyed the last by dumping his second in the lake short of the green and Mickelson took advantage to snatch the title by a single stroke.

Looking forward to 2010, Mickelson said: "I am excited about 2010 because I am starting to play the best golf of my career.

"It feels terrific because I had to fight so hard throughout the day. I didn't hit it great, the putts weren't falling, but I was able to hang in there."

Shane Lowry tied for 28th on five under after a 72 to earn €39,032.