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Rory McIlroy targets one more victory in bid to claim Race to Dubai title

Published 26/10/2016

Rory McIlroy is back in action for the first time since the Ryder Cup in the WGC-HSBC Champions
Rory McIlroy is back in action for the first time since the Ryder Cup in the WGC-HSBC Champions

Rory McIlroy believes he needs at least one win from his next three events to become only the second man after Henrik Stenson to win the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai in the same season.

Open champion Stenson achieved the feat in 2013 and McIlroy can follow in the footsteps of his Ryder Cup team-mate after winning the FedEx Cup - and USD 10million bonus - for the first time in September.

The world number three is looking to win the Race to Dubai for the third year in succession and fourth time in the last five years, but is more than a million points behind Masters champion Danny Willett, who has a lead of more than 400,000 points over Stenson.

All three are part of the star-studded field for this week's WGC-HSBC Champions event in China, which features 40 of the world's top 50 and a first prize of 1.4million euro - with one euro equalling one Race to Dubai point.

" It would be great to get the double," McIlroy said at the tournament's launch event. "I'm hoping that's what's going to happen.

"I've got three tournaments left to try to do that. I've got a lot of ground to make up as well. Danny has had a great season, so has Henrik, so I know what I need to do in the last three weeks.

"I probably need at least one win, hopefully two, and hopefully those boys not to play as good as they have been. I know I've got a lot to do but hopefully I can play well enough and at least give myself a chance."

McIlroy has not played competitively since winning three points from five matches in Europe's Ryder Cup defeat at Hazeltine and admits he could be somewhat rusty when he tees off alongside Bubba Watson and Adam Scott on Thursday.

However, the 27-year-old had never finished outside the top six at Sheshan International until his share of 11th place last year, when he had to miss the pre-tournament pro-am due to a bout of food poisoning.

"After what happened in the States with the FedEx Cup and then at the Ryder Cup, I really wanted to regroup and sort of recharge the batteries a little bit. It was a long stretch of golf," McIlroy added.

"I wanted to come into these weeks feeling fresh and feeling ready to go and hopefully play some good golf and give myself a chance to win another Race to Dubai.

"I'm sure there will be a little bit of rust in there that I will need to work off but, the last few times I've played, I've played very well and there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to keep up that run of form this week and hopefully to the end of the season."

McIlroy will use a TaylorMade driver and fairway woods in pursuit of a third World Golf Championships title after his equipment manufacturer Nike announced in August they would "transition out" of making clubs and balls.

"I know Tiger's won 18 of these things (WGC events). It would be nice to try and move up that list a little bit, too," the four-time major winner added.

"It's my sixth time in Shanghai and I've played well here but not quite well enough to win. Hopefully I can change that this week.

"I feel like I'm playing well enough and that I've showed enough good form around this golf course in the past to be confident that I can give myself a chance this week."

Scotland's Russell Knox also has Woods on his mind as he looks to become only the second player after the 14-time major winner to successfully defend a WGC title.

"I expect to come here and play well, but obviously winning is extremely difficult, especially against this calibre of field," said Knox, who was 20 under par in beating Kevin Kisner by two shots 12 months ago.

"This is my first professional title defence so I'm really going to try to soak it all in, do my best, and see what happens.

"It would be unbelievable to be in the same conversation as Tiger Woods for winning back-to-back titles, but by no means am I going to put extra pressure on myself."

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