Hong Kong knowledge may prove spark: McIlroy

Thursday, 1 December 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Rory McIlroy believes local knowledge will be a help at the Hong Kong Open, an event he needs to win on Sunday to stop Luke Donald becoming the first man to win the orders of merit on both sides of the Atlantic.

This week’s tournament is the final full-field competition of the European Tour campaign ahead of the lucrative season-ending Dubai World Championship that begins on Dec. 8.

“I am not going into this week with any unrealistic expectations but if I win I give myself at least a little bit of a better chance in Dubai,” world number two McIlroy told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

“In my favour is that I have played well in the past in the Hong Kong Open, finishing runner-up in 2008 and 2009, so I know what is required around the golf course.”

World number one Donald clinched the U.S. PGA Tour’s order of merit last month and is also top of the money-list on the European circuit, holding a lead of more than one million euros over second-placed German Martin Kaymer.

Neither Briton Donald nor Kaymer are playing in Hong Kong. McIlroy is third in the money-list, 1.13 million euros behind the leader.

The first prize this week is 341,723 euros while the winner of the Dubai World Championship will pick up a cheque for more than 930,000 euros.

“More so than looking to stop Luke winning the money-list, I am more concerned about getting another win this year,” said McIlroy as he joined the likes of Padraig Harrington, Yang Yong-eun and Ian Poulter on a photo shoot at the harbour.

“I won the Shanghai Masters a few weeks ago but that didn’t count on any of the tours so I would really love to end the season on a high with another victory to go with my 2011 U.S. Open success,” added the 22-year-old Northern Irishman.

“In many ways another win is more important to me than trying to stop what Luke looks likely to achieve.”

McIlroy was fulsome in his praise of Ryder Cup team mate Donald.

“Take nothing away from Luke, he’s had a phenomenal year and to win the money-list on both sides of the Atlantic would be a fantastic achievement,” he said.

“For many years no one thought it was possible but then Luke’s shown it can be done and all credit to him if he achieves that goal.”

McIlroy returns to individual competition this week still smarting after he and team mate Graeme McDowell spurned a winning opportunity for Ireland at last week’s World Cup in China.

“G-Mac and myself were very disappointed on Sunday night and shooting level-par was not what we expected,” said McIlroy, referring to the pair’s closing 72 after they had gone into the final round with a two-shot lead.

“We just didn’t get anything going and every time we managed to get a bit of momentum we gave it back again. Hopefully I can make amends this week by winning my first Hong Kong Open title.”