Rory McIlroy set to clinch PGA, European Tour money titles

Warren Little

All Rory McIlroy has to do to secure the PGA and European Tour money titles is manage a top-10 finish in this week’s Singapore Open. And with his nearest Race to Dubai challengers sitting out the last two contests of the 2012 Euro Tour season, the path to the dual crowns just got a whole lot easier for the world’s top-ranked player.

"I've been on the road three weeks now since playing the India Open, and that's a long enough time to be away from my young family and they're more important," Peter Hanson, who’s some $978,000 behind McIlroy on the Euro earnings list, told the Associated Press Monday about why he’ll skip tourneys in Singapore and Hong Kong. "It's disappointing that it won't sort of add spice to these next two events but then given the season I've had, winning the KLM Open, playing in a winning Ryder Cup team, and beating Rory last week in Shanghai [at the BMW Masters] to win three out of four, I have to be very happy."

Also choosing to sit out the season’s remaining tilts were three other players who had outside shots at taking the Euros from McIlroy’s wallet. Nos. 3-5 on the European money list -- Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, and Brenden Grace -- will all watch from the sidelines as McIlroy tries to match Luke Donald’s 2011 feat and win the wealth on both sides of the Atlantic.

McIlroy has already nailed down the PGA Tour money title, with $8,047,952. Hanson, who defeated the young Ulsterman by a stroke at last month’s BMW event, had no second thoughts about handing the Euro cash prize to McIlroy as well.

"In the bigger picture, I still have plenty of years to win the Race to Dubai and besides,” Hanson said, “given the way Rory has played this year, I feel as though he deserves to end the year No. 1.”

McIlroy won’t have a cakewalk to the summit, what with Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, and sixth-ranked Euro money lister Louis Oosthuizen just three of the golfers who’ll tee it up at Sentosa Golf Club starting Thursday. For sure, however, the two-time major champ -- fresh from Bulgaria where his tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki lost the WTA Tournament of Champions in a stunner -- will offer a bit more effort than he did in his recent three-and-out stint in Turkey.

“I am leading the Race to Dubai at present and it is definitely my goal to finish there at the end of the season,” McIlroy told EuropeanTour.com, prior to Hanson’s announcement that he would pass up the closing competitions. “It is very close at the top right now and I know that I need to have a strong end to the season in order to win both orders of merit titles.

“A good performance in Singapore will certainly help my chances,” said McIlroy, who first played in the event four years ago, “so hopefully I can go a few better than my fourth place finish there in 2008.”

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