McIlroy, Stenson lead field for Race to Dubai finale


Race to Dubai leader Rory McIlroy and reigning champion Henrik Stenson shape as the men to beat as the European Tour season concludes at the lucrative DP World Tour Championship.

This week's event features the top 60 players in the Race to Dubai, with McIlroy - champion here in 2012 - seeking to finish on top of the European Tour's order of merit for the third time in four years.

Danny Willett is close behind the Northern Irishman in the standings and a further five players - Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and An Byeong-hun - could yet secure top spot.

McIlroy is in confident mood, however, as he bids to follow up his win at the Dubai Desert Classic earlier in 2015.

"Coming into this week and not having wrapped it [the Race to Dubai] up like I had done the previous two times I won, there is more of an intensity," said the world number three in a news conference on Tuesday.

"It would be a really great way to finish the season. And knowing I haven't already got it wrapped up, it focusses the mind and I really want to play well this week."

Both McIlroy and Willett would be guaranteed Race to Dubai success with a win this week. Rose, Lowry, Oosthuizen and Grace require top-two finishes to have any chance of claiming top spot, while An needs a win and plenty of help from his rivals.

Discussing his previous success at Jumeirah Golf Estates, McIlroy added: "I think if anything I've probably got even more aggressive on this golf course as time has gone on, because I've got to know the golf course better.

"I really think this golf course plays into the long-hitters' hands. If you can carry the ball 300 off the tee, you can really shorten some of the par fours and it gives you a big advantage on the par fives."

Stenson won this tournament in 2013 and 2014, hitting a record 68 greens in regulation en route to the first victory.

"I think you'd be stupid to change too much in the plan that I've used the previous two years," said the Swede.

"I really feel like I'm getting a big advantage of hitting a lot of fairways and greens, and that's been key to my success here. Good ball striking gives you a bigger edge compared to maybe a normal week."

Willett, who has played in twice as many European Tour events than McIlroy this year, said: "This week there's one job to do which is win, and if you fail at winning, just try and beat Rory."