With leader Martin Kaymer crocked for six weeks following a karting accident and Paul Casey struggling with a rib injury, third placed Rory McIlroy is the new favourite for the Race to Dubai.

Just don't tell Lee Westwood, Geoff Ogilvy or Ross Fisher, who are breathing down the Ulsterman's neck.

Westwood and Fisher will certainly take some beating coming down the stretch, which should make it interesting when Rory teams up with his Dad in the Dunhill Links later this season.

Westwood permitting, the 20-year old Ulsterman will be the clear favourite to lift next week's Omega European Masters at Crans-Sur-Sierre.

Quite apart from its status as the first event of the European Ryder Cup race for Colin Montgomerie's 2010 side, it is the scene of the tournament that arguably made McIlroy the player he is today.

Trying to become the third-youngest winner in European Tour history, missed a five foot putt for par at the 18th that would have given him the title.

But worse was to follow as he then missed again from only about 18 inches at the second play-off hole to hand the title to Jean-François Lucquin.

McIlroy reacted with great maturity, racking up six top-10s in his next nine starts to finish the year ranked 39th in the world.

His 2009 season has brought him a win in the Dubai Desert Classic, a quarter-final appearance in the WGC-Accenture Match Play and four top performances in the majors, culminating with a career-best share of third in the US PGA last month.