Dubai: Rory McIlroy could move to the top of the European Tour`s Race to Dubai and make amends for last year`s playoff defeat with a good showing at this week`s co-sanctioned Hong Kong Open.
The 20-year-old Northern Irishman finished with a nine-under-par 63 for fourth place at the WGC-HSBC Champions on Sunday, moving above German Martin Kaymer into second place in the European rankings behind Lee Westwood.
Trailing Westwood by around USD 80,000 with USD 2.5 million on the line at Fanling this week, McIlroy could take the driving seat in the battle to scoop the USD 1.5 million bonus on offer for Europe`s number one at the season-ending Dubai World Championship.
"It certainly gives me a lot of momentum going into the next two weeks," McIlroy told reporters after his closing round in Shanghai.
"I`m feeling a lot better about my game than I was at the start of the week," added the world number 17, who admitted to being "tired and a bit grumpy" at the start of the Champions.
"Hopefully it`s a bit of a springboard into the next two weeks, and yeah, looking forward to it now."
While Briton Westwood will be making his debut in Hong Kong, McIlroy knows he has the game to go low at Fanling, having lost out in a dramatic playoff to Taiwan`s Lin Wen-tang at last year`s version of the European and Asian Tour event.
Briton Paul Casey, fifth in the Race to Dubai, has had to pull out because of a recurrence of the rib injury that sidelined him for three months earlier this year.
Casey retired early in his final round in Shanghai before heading straight to the U.S. for treatment and the 32-year-old Englishman is now doubtful for the Nov. 19-22 Dubai finale.
"He still very much felt he had a chance to win the Race to Dubai," his manager Guy Kinnings told reporters in Shanghai.
"That`s why he`s been aiming to come back this week and next week. So we are just going to have to wait and see."
American former British Open champions Mark O`Meara and Ben Curtis are in the field, while Asia`s challenge will be led by Lin and the continent`s first major champion, PGA Championship winner Yang Yong-eun of South Korea.