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October 30 2013

11:30 AM

McIlroy needs strong finish to year

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McIlroy is still looking for his first win of the year.

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

Rory McIlroy can still salvage some of his season at this week's World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China.

The former world No. 1 failed to qualify for the PGA TOUR's season-ending TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola but can still reach the European Tour's finale in Dubai.

McIlroy, who won the Race to Dubai last year, is currently 62nd in the standings. Only the top 60 will qualify for the event in two weeks.

"I've only played 11 events on The European Tour this season, so it's not like I've had that many opportunities," said McIlroy, who is paired with Jason Dufner and Luke Donald the first two rounds this week. "Of course I expect myself to be a lot higher than that. I won the Race to Dubai last year, and I was second in '11 and I was second in '09. So I've been a factor in it for the last few years and to be down where I am obviously doesn't feel too good and is a reflection of how my year's went."

McIlroy is winless on the year and has endured a roller-coaster season on and off the course.

After signing with Nike last offseason, McIlroy missed the cut in his first start of the year in Abu Dhabi and followed with a first-round exit at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.

The following week, he walked off the golf course midway through his second round of The Honda Classic, later citing a toothache and mental fatigue.

He ended his PGA TOUR season with zero wins -- his best finish was a runner-up in San Antonio -- and was eliminated from the FedExCup Playoffs following the BMW Championship.

Off the course, the 24-year-old also changed management companies for the second time in his career and refuted reports of a breakup with girlfirend Caroline Wozniacki.

Still, McIlroy has shown signs of turning things around.

He finished his PGA TOUR season with five top 10s, including a tie for eighth at the PGA Championship. He also briefly got in contention at The Barclays after a second-round 65.

Last week, McIlroy finished 27th at the BMW Masters.

Asked if he was "embarrassed" by his current position in the Race to Dubai, McIlroy said, "No."

"It's just the reality and the reality is I haven't played well enough to sort of be a factor," he said. "And I really don't think it will come to having to play Turkey. I'm confident enough that I'll play well this week that that could be avoided."

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