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A Magical Year For Rory McIlroy

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McIlroy Races Ahead Of The Pack

Ordinarily a calculator is the first item to be packed for the European Tour's season-ending tournament in Dubai. The ready reckoner is required to work out finishing positions needed to win the biggest spoils from the money list bonus pool. But the extraordinary form of Rory McIlroy this season means that we have long known that he will be collecting the $1m (�628,000) jackpot for topping the Race to Dubai.

The Tour's final event isn't exactly laced with its usual intrigue. For merely teeing off in the desert this Thursday the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland will add that sum to season earnings already in excess of $9.6m (�6m). The figures tell you how dominant McIlroy has become. Four victories including the PGA Championship, his second major, have taken him to the money list titles on both sides of the Atlantic. His third-placed finish in Singapore the week before last put McIlroy beyond reach on the European earnings table.

So for the season ender, the re-branded DP World Tour Championship, we are merely left with a tournament for the top 60 in the Race to Dubai. For McIlroy it is a chance to put behind him his missed cut in Hong Kong last week and create a fitting finale to his stellar 2012 schedule.

Achieving this might not be as easy as it is to identify what makes this remarkable player tick. Often when the edge of trying to make history is absent he becomes a Samson-like figure shorn of his locks. "I'm not sure if the energy in trying to sew-up the Race to Dubai and competing in the FedEx Cup has taken more out of me than maybe I thought, because while I am feeling OK physically, mentally I feel really tired," he has admitted. "When you achieve something that you want to achieve so bad, like the Race to Dubai, there is a letdown considering there are still two events remaining."

This is where McIlroy differs from Tiger Woods, the man he has supplanted at the top of the game. The former number one can raise himself for any contest and if he can't (for whatever reason) he certainly does not let on. McIlroy likes to tell it how it is, but his candour is not always what a tournament promoter wants to hear. Recently he admitted that he treated the lucrative but unofficial World Tour Final in Turkey as a chance to "play a bit of golf," adding that it wasn't just about competing. "I get to spend some time with (girlfriend) Caroline Wozniacki - I viewed it as a week like that. I didn't touch a club until the first day."

It would have been easy to criticise the world number one for having such a lax attitude but it was refreshing to hear a player prepared to admit the truth rather than play a game of well-paid platitudes. His healthy sense of perspective surely helps McIlroy find his A game when he needs it. When he does he is unstoppable. This has been a landmark year in which he seems to have emerged from the growing pains of sporting superstardom

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