Rory McIlroy cut a dejected figure after the final round of the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren on Sunday after trailing in ten strokes behind the exultant winner, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, of Spain.
McIlroy finished on one under par after a round of 73 and said he had played better than the score suggests. He will be looking, however, for improvement at the HSBC Champions tournament, beginning elsewhere in Shanghai on Thursday.
Hard to believe is the world No6 is still outside the all-important top 60 in the standings for the Race to Dubai and needs to move up at least two places to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai next month.
The idea of him not playing at the tour’s grand finale – particularly as he won both that tournament and finished as Europe’s No1 last year – is inconceivable. The same goes for Luke Donald, champion in 2011.
As he has not entered the Turkish Open, the penultimate event of the four-tournament ‘Final Series’, McIlroy will need a top performance this week. But instead of putting his feet up last night, the Northern Irishman was on a three-hour flight to Hainan Island and a money-spinning 18-hole exhibition match today with Tiger Woods.
McIlroy was criticised this time last year for playing with Woods and then not turning up for the HSBC event. He will not make the same mistake again. “I know tomorrow is going to be a busy day, but that’s fine,” he said. “As long as it doesn’t take away from my preparations for next week.”
Englishman Simon Dyson could face disciplinary action after seemingly tapping down a spike mark on the line of his putt during the second round.
Dyson was subsequently disqualified by John Paramor, the European Tour’s chief referee, and word has it that a group of senior players reviewed the incident – first brought to the attention of the organisers by television viewers - and were unimpressed.
“As players you look at this from a different point of view to the general public,” one senior player said yesterday. “You’re not interested in the trial by television argument. You just look at it and think: ‘What the hell do you think you are doing?’
“George [O’Grady, the chief executive of the European Tour] and John [Paramor] will decide whether he gets a misconduct charge that could lead to suspension. It’s just as well that they will decide because emotions run too high for players to judge this in a measured way.”
Fernandez-Castano, who led by three strokes coming to the last, almost let nerves get the better of him. With a double-bogey six he did just enough to hold on, his round of 68 giving him victory by one stroke over Francesco Molinari and Thongchai Jaidee.