For the second time in an increasingly prolific career, Rory McIlroy has won The Race to Dubai after a superb season in which he took his haul of Major titles to four, and won a World Golf Championship and the BMW PGA Championship for the first time.
With 2,726,514 points now separating McIlroy and Henrik Stenson in second place, and 1,666,600 on offer to the winner of next week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, the World Number One has already built an unassailable lead in The Race to Dubai and becomes the youngest player in history to win The European Tour’s money list twice.
McIlroy first captured the Harry Vardon Trophy, awarded to the player who finishes the season as Europe’s Number One, in 2012 after winning both the US PGA Championship and the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. But, if anything, his campaign in 2014 has been even more impressive.
After starting his inexorable march towards the summit of both The Race to Dubai and Official World Golf Rankings with victory in the BMW PGA Championship, The European Tour’s flagship event at Wentworth Club, McIlroy hit a purple patch from mid-July which marked him out as the game’s pre-eminent player.
In a stunning four-week spell, McIlroy increased his tally of Major titles to four by first winning The Open Championship and then the US PGA Championship, with a maiden victory in a World Golf Championship event, at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, sandwiched in the middle for good measure.
In the process, the 25-year-old became the third youngest player in history – after Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods – to win three of golf’s four Major Championships.
A tied runner-up finish in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which took place a week after he played his part in Europe’s victory over America in The Ryder Cup, means McIlroy has now finished in the top two in each of his last four appearances on The European Tour.
The Northern Irishman will now go in search of a second victory in next week’s US$8 million season finale at Jumeirah Golf Estates, having triumphed two years ago courtesy of a stunning five-birdie finish.
He said: “This has obviously been the best season of my career by a long way, and to win The Race to Dubai for the second time really is something truly special. That four-week spell over the summer, from The Open to the US PGA Championship, would have to be the best golf of my life, so I feel like I’ve really earned The Race to Dubai.
“Winning it for the first time two years ago was a fantastic feeling, but I feel like I’m now a more complete player and my all-round game has moved to another level. I’ve put in a lot of hard work this season, with my game and my fitness, so it’s nice to get the rewards at the end of it.
“In some ways the pressure is off next week, but I’ll fight very hard to end the year on a high with another victory. I’ve a great record in this tournament, and in Dubai generally, having secured my first European Tour win there in 2009.
“Finishing with five birdies to win the DP World Tour Championship in 2012 is right up there with my best performances on The European Tour, so every time I go back to Jumeirah Golf Estates, it always brings back some happy memories.
“It’s a great tournament to finish the season with, and if I can notch up another win it really will complete an amazing year. I’m looking forward to getting out on the golf course and feeling that competitive edge again.”
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “During another season of incredible success for The European Tour, with our Members winning three of the four Major Championships, it says something about his outstanding form that Rory ends the year as the dominant player not only on our Tour, but on the world stage.
“Given the extraordinary success he has achieved, it is only right that the season should culminate in Rory winning the Harry Vardon Trophy for the second time, and it would be no surprise to anyone if he were to end his campaign with another win in Dubai next week. He is a credit both to himself and The European Tour, and a most deserving winner of The Race to Dubai.”