DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Even after wrapping up the European Tour money title, top-ranked Rory McIlroy still has plenty to play for when he tees off Thursday at the season-ending Dubai World Championship.
A victory at the $8 million tournament will allow McIlroy to overtake Tiger Woods as the all-time leading money earner in a single season. Woods amassed a combined PGA and European Tour earning of $11,557,729 in 2007. A victory for McIlroy would put him $395,857 ahead of Woods.
"I would like to pick up two trophies at the end of the week," McIlroy said. "I really want to play well this week, finish the season on a high. There's been a lot of high points this year, and it would be great to finish on one as well."
McIlroy clinched the Order of Merit money title after finishing third at the Singapore Open, becoming the second golfer after Luke Donald to win the U.S. and European money titles in the same season.
The week is lacking the usual drama for the first time since the Race To Dubai was rolled out in 2009 because McIlroy wrapped up the money title so early.
But the No. 1-ranked Northern Irishman said the anti-climactic end to the season was not a reason to scrap the winner-take-all format in favor of something closer to the FedEx Cup in the United States. The American format features three playoff events that whittle the field down to 30, who then all have a chance to win $10 million in a final tournament.
"I played well during the FedEx Cup playoffs this year on the PGA Tour and felt a little hard done by, playing so well and not being able to win that," McIlroy said.
Donald won the Order of Merit title last year in Dubai, finishing third to hold off a late-season charge from McIlroy. The 35-year-old Englishman said the fact that the title has already been decided might be reason enough for the European Tour to reconsider the format.
"The European Tour may want to think about adding a scenario where that doesn't happen and incorporate either a playoff system or some other way to make sure that it does go down to the wire," Donald said. "I think that makes it more exciting. I remember last year when I played. It felt like I had a target on my back."
European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady is expected to discuss possible late-season changes to the tour on Sunday. But O'Grady told The Associated Press that the outcome year was not so much a result of a flawed system as the dominance of McIlroy. He ruled out any radical changes to the format.
"It's very hard to see it happening with the size of the prize fund this week and the size of the bonus pool," he said of the $3.75 million in bonus money that will be handed out to those finishing in the top 10 on the money list.
"He has had a phenomenal year, Rory McIlroy. It's as simple as that. I think it's easy for our psychology to understand how you win this thing. The FedEx series in America is a very American concept with the playoffs. I wouldn't be immediately given to panic measures on this."