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Rory McIlroy now within touching distance of golf’s summit

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Rory McIlroy with Graeme McDowell during the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai yesterday

Rory McIlroy with Graeme McDowell during the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai yesterday

Rory McIlroy with Graeme McDowell during the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai yesterday

Only one man now stands between Rory McIlroy and golf’s coveted world number one ranking.

The Ulsterman’s last-hole birdie in Shanghai yesterday took him to a career-high second in the world, just behind Englishman Luke Donald.

McIlroy finished fourth at the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China, but that final putt meant more to him than winning the tournament itself.

Had he parred the 18th, the 22-year-old US Open champion have been in a four-way tie for sixth — and would have stayed behind Englishman Lee Westwood in the rankings.

Westwood’s compatriot Donald missed the tournament while awaiting the birth of his second daughter, but was too far ahead to be caught even if McIlroy had won yesterday.

Now, however, it’s odds-on that the Holywood superstar will emulate his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, who is of course the number one tennis player in the world, and who was in China to support her man over the weekend.

The pair will now spend two weeks together in the Maldives — and McIlroy said he was looking forward to the holiday.

“This is the end of a six-week run on the road and I'm not even going to take my clubs with me,” he said.

Compatriot Graeme McDowell actually finished ahead of McIlroy with a 67 that put him in third place, four strokes behind the winner Martin Kaymer.

Belfast Telegraph