McIlroy led the European rankings going into the Dubai event
Rory McIlroy's consolation on missing out on the European number one spot for 2009 was his move into the world's top 10 for the first time.
Lee Westwood's triumph at the Dubai World Championship enabled the Englishman to pip McIlroy to the Race to Dubai title.
However, McIlroy's third place saw him move up from 13th to 10th in the latest world rankings.
McIlroy and Sergio Garcia are the only 20-year-olds to have made the top 10.
Westwood, whose six-stroke victory denied McIlroy the Race to Dubai title, is back up to his career-high position of fourth.
Tiger Woods was 21 when he first entered the world's top 10 in 1997.
Despite being pipped by Westwood, McIlroy picked up a cheque of £960,000 in Dubai with his £290,000 tournament prize added to by a £669,762 end-of-season bonus.
Padraig Harrington is top Irishman in sixth position while Graeme McDowell faces a battle to guarantee himself a place in next year's Masters as he is currently 51st in the rankings.
The top 50 at the year end will be certain of places at Augusta.
"I was trying to become the youngest player since Seve (Ballesteros) to win the title," said McIlroy before moving on to China for his World Cup debut this week.
"I haven't been able to do it and I'm disappointed, but when I look back on the season it's been fantastic.
"It's been a great learning curve. I've played well in the majors and I know I can compete against the best players in the world now."
In China, McIlroy partners Graeme McDowell, with whom he won three out of four games for Britain and Ireland against Continental Europe at the Vivendi Trophy in September.
"It would be great to win and bring the trophy home to Northern Ireland!" he joked with Irish reporters in Dubai.
In golf the two countries compete as one and Dubliners Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley were successful in 1997.
When it comes to the Olympics, however, McIlroy has already said he intends to compete for Great Britain if he qualifies.