Rory McIlroy tops off best season by winning the Race to Dubai


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The Independent Online

Rory McIlroy capped the best season of his career by adding the European Tour’s Race to Dubai title to his two majors on Sunday – and he didn’t even have to lift a club.

The 25-year-old Northern Irishman, who sat out this week’s Turkish Airlines Open, knew the money-list crown, and an extra £800,000, would be his providing Spain’s Sergio Garcia, German Marcel Siem and Jamie Donaldson of Wales failed to win that event.

“To win the Race to Dubai for the second time really is something truly special,” McIlroy said after victory in Turkey went to the American Brooks Koepka.

“That four-week spell over the summer, from The Open to the US PGA Championship, would have to be the best golf of my life so I feel like I’ve really earned the Race  to Dubai.

“Winning it for the first time two years ago was a fantastic feeling but I feel like I’m now a more complete player and my all-round game has moved to another level. I’ve put in a lot of hard work this season, with my game and my fitness, so it’s nice to get the rewards at the end of it.”

McIlroy, who also won the tour’s flagship event – the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth – and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio this year, said he would still go all out to capture this week’s DP World Tour Championship title in Dubai.

“In some ways the pressure is off but I’ll fight very hard to end the year on a high with another victory,” he added.

“Finishing with five birdies to win the championship in 2012 is right up there with my best performances on the European Tour, so every time I go back it always brings back some happy memories.

McIlroy added the Race to Dubai title to his Open and US PGA major triumphs in 2014

“It’s a great tournament to finish the season with and if I can notch up another win it really will complete an amazing year. I’m looking forward to getting out on the golf course and feeling that competitive edge again.”

Koepka was left pinching himself after outplaying a world-class field to land the Turkish crown.

The 24-year-old, who shot a closing seven-under-par 65 for a 17-under total of 271, eclipsed the likes of Ian Poulter, Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood to claim the first prize of €930,000 (£743,000) at the European Tour’s penultimate event of the season.

However, joy for Koepka spelt heartache for Poulter as he finished a stroke adrift in second after missing a five-foot birdie putt at the last which would have forced a play-off.

The 38-year-old Englishman has had a wretched season with niggling injuries but he took solace at achieving his second top-10 finish in successive weeks after having tied for sixth at the WGC-HSBC Champions Tournament in Shanghai.