Rory McIlroy’s race is run for 2011 but what now for the world No 2 and his manager Conor Ridge.
Protecting McIlroy from himself while helping the 22-year old play his best golf is the primary objective. But it will be tough for the men at Horizon Sports to turn down future lucrative appearances late in the year at events such as the Korea Open, the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters or the Asian Tour’s season-ending tournament, the Thailand Golf Championship.
Then there’s McIlroy’s desire to spend as much time as possible with globetrotting girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, the world tennis No 1 and the extra travelling that might entail.
A spokesman for McIlroy’s management team told Reuters in Dubai that the world No 2 will decide tonight whether or not he will travel to Bangkok for the Thailand event.
Given that his doctors have ordered him to rest so he can recover from a suspected case of dengue fever, it appears more than likely that he will be heading home to Holywood for a short break.
According to sources close to the player, he intends to spend just a couple of days at home over Christmas before joining Wozniacki in Thailand of all places, where she will be competing in the World Tennis Charity Invitation event in Hua Hin, 200 km south of Bangkok, on New Year’s Day. Whether or not he makes that trip in the light of his recent health problems remains to be seen. But he can now refect on a stunning 2011 campaign with pride.
McIlroy conceded the Race to Dubai title to Luke Donald following Saturday’s third round and eventually trailed home seven shots behind the world No 1 and dual money list winner in today’s Dubai World Championship.
The US Open champion closed with a 71 to finish tied for 11th with Graeme McDowell (66) on seven under par as Donald claimed solo third place on 16 under, three strokes behind tournament winner Alvaro Quiros.
Quiros eagled the last with a long range bomb to close with a 67 and win the €922,645 top prize by two strokes from Scotland’s Paul Lawrie on 19 under.
Shane Lowry signed off with a 70 to claim a share of eighth place alongside his 2009 Irish Open victim Robert Rock, adding €143,933 to his Race to Dubai tally.
The Offaly man, playing in just his second full season on tour, finished 41st in the final standings with earnings of €764,778 from 25 events - an average of more than €30,500 per week.
Donald topped the standings with €5,323,400 with McIlroy second on €4,002,168, taking him to 25th in the Career Money List on the European Tour with earnings of €10.4m from just 100 events.
McDowell, who rose one place to 13th in the world today, finished 16th in the Race to Dubai standings with €1,230,461.
Peter Lawrie (73) finished 51st in Dubai on five over and 58th in the money list with €556,549.
Michael Hoey (73) was 54th on eight over, clinching a career best 25th in the final money list with €967,668.
Open champion Darren Clarke was last in the field on 11 over after a 76 but still finished 11th in the money list with earnings of €1,590,415.
The Ulsterman has endured a torrid time on the course since his triumph at Sandwich, falling to 46th in the world from a high of 30th following his maiden major victory.
The 43-year old’s best finish since then is 12th, but that meant last place in last week’s Nedbank World Challenge.
At least he made it to Dubai, which is more than Padraig Harrington could say after the worst season of his career.
The Dubliner ended up 67th in the money list (€457,389) and fell from 23rd to 84th in the world rankings this year.
McIlroy officially withdrew from next week’s Thailand Golf Championship on Sunday, adding that won’t play again until January’s European Tour event in Abu Dhabi. He will remain in Dubai for the next few days to rest, according to reports.
The National reported:
“I can’t wait to go away,” he said. “It will be nice not having to get up to practice or hit a shot and people won’t be telling me what to do or where to go. Having a few weeks off is going to be nice. I’ll be back to Dubai [where he has a house] on January 12 and I probably won’t hit a shot until I’m back out here, and then it’s on to Abu Dhabi.”
This year McIlroy won his first major, the US Open, climbed to No 2 in the world and finished second in the Race to Dubai.
“I have made great progress this year with my game,” he said. “I feel as if I’m swinging my club as good as I ever have, and there are a lot of positives looking ahead to next year.
No doubt he will find time to read his ex-girlfriend Holly Sweeney’s take on their split in this weekend’s Irish Sunday Mirror.