x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

McIlroy unfazed by Grace challenge as lead narrows

Despite four weeks of competition in the United States ahead of the Ryder Cup, McIlroy continues to lead the Race to Dubai.

BELEK, Turkey // Rory McIlroy, the world No 1, has set his sights on ending his best-ever season on a high by finishing the year as the European No 1.

Despite four weeks of competition in the United States ahead of the Ryder Cup, McIlroy continues to lead the Race to Dubai despite now being under serious threat from South Africa's Branden Grace.

McIlroy returns to Europe at this week's Turkish Airlines World Golf Final, which also features Tiger Woods. However he will not return to regular European Tour competition until the Asian Masters in Shanghai later this month.

Grace captured his fourth European Tour win this year when he led from start to finish to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday at St Andrews.

The win propelled Grace into third place on the European money list behind second placed Justin Rose of England and McIlroy, with some six weeks remaining in the season, which culminates at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, starting on November 22. The trio will compete at Shanghai before contesting the HSBC Champions title at Mission Hills in Shenzhen, China.

After a season in which he won a second major and set the world alight in winning three other events on the PGA Tour, McIlroy is determined to end his fifth full year in the professional ranks on a high by being crowned the European No 1.

"The big goal for me in what is left in the season is to keep the level up and try to win the Race to Dubai," he said.

"I have a little bit of a lead at the moment and I came so close in 2009 finishing second behind Lee [Westwood] and then came close again by finishing third last year behind Luke [Donald].

"But if I can play the next few weeks the way I have been and finish off the Race to Dubai successfully it would be a great way to cap off my great season."

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