McIlroy now looking to bounce back in Dubai after Sun City rollercoaster ride
Rory McIlroy is determined to regain lost confidence at this week’s DP World Tour Championship after his Race to Dubai hopes evaporated after another rollercoaster round in Sun City.
As Lee Westwood carded an impressive, eight-under 64 to win for the first time in four years at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, McIlroy shot a one-under 71 to finish 14 shots behind him in 21st at Gary Player Country Club.
It means that while McIlroy moves up to sixth in the Race to Dubai, he now has no chance of catching Francesco Molinari in this week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, leaving the Italian to battle it out with Tommy Fleetwood in a two-horse race.
But after winning twice in his last five starts at Jumeirah Golf Estates, McIlroy believes he can finish a sometimes-trying season on a high despite coming off a round that featured an eagle, four birdies, two bogeys and a triple bogey seven at the third.
“I feel like the seven at the third sort of summed up the week,” said McIlroy, who struggled from the tee. “The margin for error on this golf course is so small. If you get it off-line you’re in a bush, and then I start messing around in the bushes and end up taking seven.”
He added: “It’s the same as China a couple weeks ago. There’s signs of good stuff. There’s just a lot of mistakes. But again, I’m going to a golf course next week that I’ve had so much success on. If there’s any golf course or any place in the world where I can get a bit of confidence from, it’s Dubai.”
After putting on an exhibition in Sun City, Westwood will also be looking forward to Dubai, where he won the inaugural event in 2009 to deny McIlroy the Race to Dubai crown.
The Englishman (45) started the day three strokes behind long-time leader Sergio Garcia before joining the fray for the title with an eagle three from just four feet at the second.
The tournament became a three-way battle with the Spaniard and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen before Westwood surged clear by following a birdie at the eighth with five more in a seven-hole stretch from the 11th.
His 15-under total gave him a three-stroke win over Garcia (70) with Oosthuizen slipping back to third.
It was Westwood’s third win in Sun City since 2010 but his first in a Rolex Series event and his first win anywhere since the 2014 Maybank Malaysian Open.
“Pretty emotional,” Westwood said following his 24th European Tour victory and his 43rd worldwide.
Westwood’s partner Helen Storey was his caddie for the week and he added: “It’s been brilliant. She’s caddied twice for me this year and we lost in a play-off in Denmark and we’ve won here. Might have to have a bit of a rethink, not least about who caddies for me, but our percentages!”