McIlroy set to pass $7m barrier after stellar 2009

Rory McIlroy can smash through the €5 million ($7.5m) barrier for the 2009 season with victory in this week's Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.

But the Holywood star, 20, is more interested in moving up the world rankings than piling up the cash on offer in Sun City.

World No 10 McIlroy can move into the world’s top six if he grabs victory in the exclusive 12-man event at the Gary Player Country Club with the winner pocketing $1.2m.

He said: “I’ve managed to get into 10th spot in the World Rankings for the first time ever and the way the divisors are looking and where people are around me I think by the end of the year I could end up higher than that.”

McIlroy had to settle for second best for the second week on the trot when he and partner Graeme McDowell were joint runners up behind Italy in the World Cup at Mission Hills on Sunday.

He was also pipped to the Race to Dubai title by Lee Westwood, but picked up over €1m in Dubai and €242,167 in China to take his 2009 earnings to an incredible €4.55m worldwide.

With €800,000 on offer for the winner of the former Million Dollar Challenge, he can smash the €5m barrier with ease this week.

Yet McIlroy insists that money is not his top priority as he battles to rub shoulders with the game’s superstars for major glory over the next few years.

After banking over €1m in Dubai, he said: “It's an unbelievable amount of money. But that's not why I play the game. I want to become the best player I can be and that means playing with the best."

World No 7 Henrik Stenson, Retief Goosen, Ross Fisher, Robert Karlsson, Angel Cabrera, Hunter Mahan and Luke Donald headline the field in South Africa.

Meanwhile, Harrington will be bidding to end a 16-month winless streak in Tiger Woods’ Chevron World Challenge in Los Angeles.

Despite having the week off, the Dubliner edged 0.001 ranking points ahead of Paul Casey to move from sixth to fifth in the world.

And with world ranking points on offer in the 18-man Chevron invitational event for the first time, he can overtake Westwood as world No 4.