In Brief

Rory McIlroy targets Shanghai win as the Race to Dubai heats up

Europe’s best golfers try to catch Ryder Cup star Molinari at the top of the rankings

Rory McIlroy is aiming for victory at this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai to set up a grandstand finish to the 2018 European golf season.

The Northern Irishman lies fourth in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings with only three tournaments remaining before the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates. 

McIlroy, 29, lines up in the $10m (£7.73m) Shanghai event, which starts tomorrow, and will also play at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa and the Dubai finale in November.

If he is to become Race to Dubai champion for a fourth time he will have to overtake his Ryder Cup teammate Francesco Molinari, who leads the rankings ahead of Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed and McIlroy. 

Speaking ahead of the WGC-HSBC Champions, McIlroy said: “I know Francesco has got a big lead over all of us. I think I’m just under two million points behind.

“This is a big event, a lot of points and money up for grabs, the same as Nedbank and Dubai. I feel like I need one win, maybe two out of the next three, to have any sort of a chance.

“If I can go to Dubai with a mathematical chance of winning, you never know what can happen. Still open to it but I know it’s a long shot.”

One more goal for Molinari

This year’s Open winner Molinari is also in action in China and will tee off alongside McIlroy and US golfer Dustin Johnson at 3.55am (UK time) tomorrow.

The Italian, who starred for Europe in the Ryder Cup victory against the Americans, is keen to finish the season as Europe’s No.1 golfer.

He said: “It’s been quite a journey since 2010 but especially this year, it’s been incredible. I’ve got a couple more events to go, this one and Dubai, and it would be nice to finish off the season in style.

“I know that there’s a lot of guys still in with a chance and there’s a lot of money to play for in the next few weeks. I know it definitely won’t be easy for the Europeans. It’s the main goal remaining in the season so everyone will do their best to try and catch me.

“I need to try and do my things well and this week, potentially, it’s very, very important. Day by day, try to play well and see what I can come out with Sunday.”

As well as Molinari, McIlroy and Johnson, the field at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai will also include FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose and world No.1 Brooks Koepka.

Of the 12 Team Europe Ryder Cup winners only two players - Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia - won’t be playing at the Sheshan International Golf Club.

European Tour Race to Dubai rankings top ten

How it stands with four tournaments remaining:

  • 1 Francesco Molinari (Italy) 4,647,421 points
  • 2 Tommy Fleetwood (England) 3,291,976 
  • 3 Patrick Reed (USA) 3,057,948 
  • 4 Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland) 2,760,667 
  • 5 Alex Noren (Sweden) 2,729,725 
  • 6 Thorbjorn Olesen (Denmark) 2,485,020 
  • 7 Eddie Pepperell (England) 2,478,435 
  • 8 Tyrrell Hatton (England) 2,309,724 
  • 9 Jon Rahm (Spain) 2,161,574 
  • 10 Russell Knox (Scotland) 2,054,929
2018 European Tour calendar  
  • 25-28 October: WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International GC, Shanghai, China 
  • 1-4 November: Turkish Airlines Open at Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort, Antalya, Turkey 
  • 8-11 November: Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC, Sun City, South Africa 
  • 15-18 November: DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE

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