The world number five could overtake McIlroy at the top of the standings with a good showing at the BMW Masters this week.
Justin Rose looks to close gap on Rory McIlroy ahead of Race to Dubai
The world number five, who won the European Order of Merit in 2007 before it became the Race to Dubai, lies second in the standings going into this week's $7 million BMW Masters at Lake Malaren, Shanghai.
He will tee off with Race to Dubai leader McIlroy, who won his second major at the US PGA Championship in August, and world number four Lee Westwood in a mouth-watering final group tomorrow.
Rose is EU437,000 (Dh2.08m) behind his Ryder Cup teammate but, with a Dh4.3m cheque awaiting the winner in China this week, it is a gap that can be closed before the season-ending Dubai World Championship next month.
"There are some big events coming up and an exciting finish to the Race to Dubai," the 32-year-old said.
"I think Rory is playing more tournaments than me in the lead-up, so I am going to have to play well, absolutely. I figure I am going to have win one of these next two weeks to give myself a really good chance in Dubai."
Rose admitted that sometimes it is easy to switch off as the season winds down, but with so much at stake this year he is fired up for the final battles ahead.
"A lot of times you can get to this point in the season and be really burnt out. But I feel very motivated to play these tournaments coming up. There's still a lot more to achieve so that's the key for me."
Rose would dearly love to win another money list title, having won the final event of the 2007 season, the Volvo Masters in Valderrama, to overtake Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington that season. It was an achievement, he says, that almost happened by accident.
"For it to happen this year I think would be more meaningful based upon there's been a lot of hard work that's gone on between 2007 and now.
"I kind of felt like it happened out of the blue that season."
McIlroy is attempting to emulate Luke Donald's feat of 2011 by winning both US and European money lists but, while he already has the US list sewed up, a second place for Rose this week could see him go top of the European standings if the Northern Irishman finishes outside the top seven.
And if Rose were to scoop a win in Shanghai, then McIlroy would need to come second in the tournament to retain his lead.
"To be number one of any tour around the world, especially the European Tour, that's a huge goal an would be a huge honour," said Rose.
"So it's got my attention obviously the next few weeks."
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE