Rory McIlroy will concentrate on his own game as he bids to snatch the title of Europe’s top golfer from Luke Donald when the world’s top two players go head-to head in Dubai this weekend -- provided he can shake off a mystery virus.
The Ulster youngster is awaiting medical reports on blood tests after complaining on tiredness and lethargy even as he won the Hong Kong Open last Sunday.
That victory means world number two McIlroy can become Europe’s top earner this year if he wins the Race to Dubai and England’s Donald finishes outside the top nine.
McIlroy lost out when he found himself at the heart of a similar shoot-out with Lee Westwood on the same Dubai course two years, and he insists he has learned the lessons from that defeat when Westwood won their duel by two shots and the tournament by six strokes.
“It was tough to fully concentrate on my own game when you’re looking at the player beside you,” said McIlroy.
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“I feel like it’s something I’ve learned because when I go out with Luke in the last game I’ll only be trying to concentrate on myself and making sure that I can play the best I can.”
Donald can become the first player in history to top the money lists in both America and Europe in the same season if he wins his duel with McIlroy.
“I’ve still got a slim chance,” U.S. Open champion McIlroy said. “I’ve got to win and Luke has to finish outside the top nine or 10, whatever it is.
“I’m really not counting on him to do that because he’s only finished outside the top 10 about twice this year. Over the last 18 months he’s just been so consistent. He’s deservedly the number one ranked player in the world.
“He’s always had a great short game and always holes the putts that he should.”
Still suffering from the effects of the virus, McIlroy will take it easy in the build-up to Thursday’s first round.
“I’ll really try to conserve my energy and focus it all into the four tournament days. I’m not 100%, but I’m still able to go out and play 18 holes and try and give it my all,” he said.