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Rory McIlroy still number one hit despite Sergio's efforts

By Phil Casey

Sergio Garcia will look to turn a string of near-misses into a lucrative victory in the £5.4million WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai this week. But the Ryder Cup star still does not hold out much hope of catching the absent Rory McIlroy at the top of the Race to Dubai standings to become European number one for the first time in his career.

Garcia has recorded four second-place finishes in his last eight events, including being joint runner-up in the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur last Sunday.

However, by opting to play on the PGA Tour rather than in the first event of the European Tour's Final Series - the BMW Masters - the Spaniard was unable to close the gap to Ulsterman McIlroy, which stands at more than three million points.

And the 34-year-old - who had three straight second-place finishes this summer in the Travelers Championship, Open Championship and US PGA - actually dropped from second to third on the Race to Dubai thanks to Gleneagles team-mate Jamie Donaldson claiming a share of fourth place at Lake Malaren.

"If I win all three tournaments and Rory doesn't play, then I have a chance," said Garcia, who needs the equivalent of yet another second place and top-five finish in his next two events to keep his hopes alive of overhauling McIlroy at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

"I'm not really thinking about that much. I just want to have three good tournaments to finish with - it would be a nice way to close out the year.

"The most important thing is to keep playing well and keep enjoying it and try to do the best we can these next few weeks."

World number six Justin Rose moved up from eighth to fifth on the money list after sharing fourth place with Donaldson last week.

McIlroy is the only one of Europe's victorious Ryder Cup team not in action at Sheshan International Golf Club, where fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell is among the favourites.

Meanwhile, the European Tour is beginning a search for just the fourth chief executive in its history after yesterday's announcement that George O'Grady will step down.

O'Grady has been with the Tour for more than 40 years.

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