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McIlroy eyes European top spot

Rory McIlroy
McIlroy is currently second in the Race to Dubai standings

Rory McIlroy continues his bid to become the second youngest European number one in history when he heads to compete in Hong Kong this week.

McIlroy is just 52,321 euros behind Race to Dubai leader Lee Westwood, who also makes the trip to Fanling.

"Winning this event would take care of catching Lee so that's what I am focusing on," said McIlroy.

"There's not much between us now so any ground I can gain this week will be good to take into Dubai," he added.

"I will be keeping an eye on Lee's scores all week but winning will take care of that gap so that is my main focus."

The Holywood player is currently second in the Race to Dubai ahead of the penultimate event of the season after leapfrogging Martin Kaymer with a brilliant fourth place in Shanghai last week.

And after agonisingly missing out on what would then have been a maiden title at last year's Hong Kong Open, the 20-year-old has extra motivation to continue his recent form which has yielded four top-10 finishes in his last five strokeplay events.

With substantial prize money on offer at the season-ending Dubai World Championship, the Order of Merit will not be decided this week, although a win on Sunday would leave either of the Ryder Cup contenders in pole position.

"These two weeks are going to be very good, I love coming to Hong Kong - it's my fifth year coming here, twice as an amateur and then this is my third Hong Kong Open.

I have great memories of playing last year, playing well to get into the play-off and then the play-off itself was incredible

Rory McIlroy

"I love the city and the golf course. It is one of my favourite weeks of the year," said the world number 17.

McIlroy is chasing a first Order of Merit title in just his second season, which would see him move behind Seve Ballesteros as the youngest winner of the title, having only claimed a maiden title in Dubai earlier this year.

"I have had my chances to win after Dubai. I had a chance at the European Open where I would have won if I had shot a 70 on the last day.

"I sort of had a chance in Switzerland where I had two bad holes and I was second in the Alfred Dunhill Links," he added.

"There have been chances but it has been a consistent year with 12 top-10s and 10 top fives."

McIlroy lost out in a thrilling three-way play-off in Hong Kong last year, with Chinese Taipei's Lin Wen-tang coming out on top in a tussle which also involved Italy's Francesco Molinari.

"I have great memories of playing last year, playing well to get into the play-off and then the play-off itself was incredible.

"It was one of the best experiences I have had on the golf course - bittersweet memories but I look on it as positive.

"It was another week I got myself right in contention and this event last year got me into the top 50 in the world so it was a big event for me."

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see also
McIlroy claims fourth in Shanghai
08 Nov 09 |  Golf
McIlroy out despite two victories
30 Oct 09 |  Golf
McIlroy drops back in money list
18 Oct 09 |  Golf

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