Willett hunting down McIlroy in Shanghai


Rory McIlroy's time at the top of the Race to Dubai leaderboard could come to an end at the BMW Masters this week as Danny Willett heads a group of five players looking to usurp him.

McIlroy leads Willett by 74,213 points head going into the penultimate tournament of the European Tour season, but the Northern Irishman will not be present in Shanghai as he continues to reach full fitness after an ankle injury.

McIlroy's absence means Willett will jump ahead of him should he finish 28th or better at the Lake Malaren Golf Club.

"This could be a very big result for me," said the Englishman. "With Rory not playing, I could gain a few more points on him and give us a nice buzz going into the final week into Dubai.

"I've been determined all year, ever since I got to number one straight off the bat at the Nedbank. I thought, it would be good to stay up there all year. 

"After that big win, I kept pressing hard and I've been able to post some really good numbers around the world. Hopefully I can keep that going for two more weeks."

The 78-man field in China has a number of other players eyeing a chance to get ahead of McIlroy and boost their chances of finishing on top after the Tour Championships in Dubai - with Justin Rose hoping to build on his recent win in Hong Kong.

Rose needs to finish second on Sunday if he is to have a chance of climbing to top spot.

"I feel very good about my game," he said. "Getting back from Hong Kong, it was more a case of relaxing and recharging the batteries before a bit of travelling and one final last-ditch effort to try and overtake Rory and Danny and a couple of the other guys ahead of me.

"If I win any of the last two events that puts me ahead of them, depending on what they do. For me it's fairly simple: I need to play well."

The equation is the same for Shane Lowry and Louis Oosthuizen, while Branden Grace needs to win to have any hope of finishing ahead of McIlroy.

The European Tour's top six will not have it all their own way, though, with defending champion Marcel Siem returning and Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer and Victor Dubuisson also in the field.