Cape Town – Rory McIlroy has not given up hope of winning a fourth Race to Dubai title as he aims for two Rolex Series victories to end his 2018 season.
The Northern Irishman tees it up at this week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge at eighth in the Race to Dubai rankings, just under two million points behind leader Francesco Molinari.
“I’m excited to be back. Got a few days to get a look at the golf course, adjust to the altitude and figure out how far the ball is going. Excited to be back and looking forward to giving it one last push here and next week in Dubai,” said McIlroy.
That means even back-to-back victories would leave McIlroy short should Molinari finish second on his own or tied with one other at next week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
“My thing is I’m coming here with the goal, if I can get into that final group on Thursday with Frankie (Francesco Molinari) next week, that would be a good start. I can’t look too far ahead, but if I can do what I need to do this week, leapfrog a few guys and get into that final pair on Thursday would be a huge step towards trying to,” said McIlroy.
With that in mind, McIlroy has nothing to lose over the closing fortnight of the season, and he is looking for a big week at Gary Player Country Club.
The 29-year-old is yet to win on the European Tour this season but has five top fives in his 11 appearances, including second places at the Dubai Desert Classic, European PGA Championship and Open Championship.
“I’m going to need some great golf over the next two weeks, but we’ll see what happens this week. I feel like my game’s in pretty good shape. I didn’t play great in China but a week off and just sort of reflecting on things. Hopefully I can get off to a good start this week,” said the world No 6.
“I’ve played good golf. I’ve played consistent golf. I’ve played in six final groups this year and I haven’t had a win out of any of those final groups. I think I played in four final groups in the previous two years combined, so it’s better.”
McIlroy came close at last season’s SA Open and is delighted to be back on African soil.
Sergio Garcia, a two-time winner of this prestigious tournament in 2001 and 2003 prior to it becoming an officially sanctioned European Tour event, joins McIlroy in the star-studded field.
Garcia is the most successful Ryder Cup player of all-time after securing his 25th and a half point in Team Europe’s stunning victory at the 2018 Ryder Cup, with his most recent appearance at the Gary Player Country Club five years ago – yielding a runner-up finish.
“It’s always nice to be back here in Africa. I’ve always had a big following here. Always felt very, very loved, so it’s good to be back in Sun City,” said Garcia.
“It’s extremely special. Every time you can be a past champion in a tournament, it’s an honour and it’s extremely special and to be twice here at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, it’s obviously something that I’m very proud of.”
The 38-year-old has since become a Major champion, following his momentous victory at the 2017 Masters and is set to tee it up for the first time since he secured his third Valderrama Masters title last month.
“Confidence is good. There’s no doubt it’s been a good last couple of months of the year. So hopefully, we have three tournaments left, and we can have three decent weeks, finish on a high and get ready for next year,” said Garcia.