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Rory to go to the wire

Rory McIlroy insists he is prepared to take the battle to become Europe's number one to the wire after losing his place at the top of the standings to Lee Westwood last weekend.

Westwood claimed a dramatic victory at the Portugal Masters on Sunday to move €200,000 ahead of McIlroy in the Race to Dubai.

McIlroy's bid for the Harry Vardon Trophy continues at next week's World Matchplay before he takes part in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, the Hong Kong Open and, finally, the decisive Dubai World Championship.

And while McIlroy has set his sights on chasing down Westwood, he stressed there are still others in contention.

“Lee overtook me at the weekend and I think we are playing the same tournaments in the run-in,” he said.

“It will be good to chase him all the way to the finish and I will have to play some really good golf to try and overtake him.

“But there are lots of other guys still in with chance, like Martin Kaymer and Paul Casey and there are a few others just outside but can make big moves.

“I will be trying my best to get back on top.”

McIlroy, meanwhile, gave a strong indication that he has all but made his mind up that he will remain on the European Tour next season.

The youngster had been considering a switch to the PGA Tour but with him firmly entrenched inside the world's top 50 he would still be able to play in majors, world championships and a number of tournaments in America.

“I am still thinking about it but I am leaning towards playing in Europe,” said McIlroy.

“I'll obviously play 12 or 13 events in America if I don't take my card anyway.

“With the flying back and forth, I have seen a few guys in the past that haven't really done that too well and I just feel that I have a lot of time on my hands, so if I don't do it next year I can always do it the year after.”

Padraig Harrington has welcomed the decision to switch the 3 Irish Open to a new late July date.

The tournament will next year be played from July 29 to August 1 at Killarney.

“The 3 Irish Open going to Killarney on this new date will make it a tremendous event,” he said.

“The Irish Open has to give a little bit more than other events: it has to give the whole package with people enjoying the whole week around the golf.”

The new later date should help attract a top quality field as it will be one of the last deciding events in the race to make the Ryder Cup team.

Belfast Telegraph


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