SHANGHAI • Rory McIlroy has skipped the BMW Masters starting today but will still be keeping tabs on the scores knowing that his status as Europe's No. 1 is hanging by a thread.
World No. 6 Justin Rose is one of five golfers who could topple McIlroy from the top spot in the Race to Dubai standings at Lake Malaren, the final stop before the season-ending DP World Tour Championship next week.
Second-placed Danny Willett, after his fourth-round 62 and third place in the US$8.5 million (S$12.1 million) WGC-HSBC Champions across the city last weekend, is just 74,213 points adrift.
He needs to finish only 28th or higher to overtake McIlroy.
Shane Lowry, Louis Oosthuizen, Rose and Branden Grace also have the chance to knock the four-time Major champion off his perch, with the first three each needing to finish second or better to move into top spot.
Only victory would be good enough for sixth-placed Grace.
McIlroy won the Race to Dubai last year and in 2012 but may find by Sunday night he needs nothing less than a win in Dubai to win his third Harry Vardon trophy.
The world No. 3 is determined to give himself every chance by arriving early in the Middle East after skipping the second Shanghai event this week.
"I'm just with the mindset that I need to go to Dubai and win and whatever happens from there hope it will be enough, that's all I can do," he said.
Rose is gunning for double glory on Chinese soil following his win last month in the Hong Kong Open. He knows victory this week on a course which he plays well - he missed out on a three-man play-off by one stroke here a year ago - and the 1,333,330 points that go with it will put his destiny into his hands.
"I'm about 800,000 points behind Rory and Danny so I'm going to have to win one of these last two tournaments," he said before playing in Tuesday's pro-am.
Further down the rankings, there is an equally intense scrap going on to get into the top 60 and qualify for the riches on offer in Dubai - US$8 million in prize money and a bonus pool of US$7.5 million to be split among the top 15 in the final Race to Dubai standings.
Day 1 (StarHub Ch204, 11am)