But the bookmakers surprisingly agree with a buoyant McIlroy's assertion that he is more likely to win the WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai this week than miss out on the season finale in Dubai.
"It's a big week obviously, it's sort of make or break," said McIlroy, who faces a field featuring 40 of the world's top 50 at Sheshan International Golf Club. "If I don't play good enough here, then there's a good chance I won't play in Dubai. I think there's a bigger chance of me winning this tournament than not playing in Dubai."
With next week's Turkish Airlines Open currently not on his schedule, McIlroy needs to climb into the top 60 on the Race to Dubai this week to have a chance of qualifying for the DP World Tour Championship next month.
The 24-year-old is less than €4000 (£3400) behind Garth Mulroy in 60th place, but by not playing in Turkey will need to win much more than that to feel safe. The first prize of just over €1m (£856,000) would, of course, take care of everything and the two-time major winner can take confidence from his one-shot victory over Tiger Woods in their 18-hole exhibition match at Mission Hills on Monday.
"I'm looking forward to going out there and playing well," added McIlroy. "I feel like I'm capable of winning this tournament and I feel like my game's coming together nicely."
Race to Dubai leader Henrik Stenson was 34th in last week's BMW Masters in Shanghai, despite a closing 65, but the Swede extended his lead over Graeme McDowell to €443,725 after McDowell finished 53rd.
Justin Rose, US Open champion, is just behind McDowell in the standings as he looks to finish the year as European No.1 for the second time, having achieved the feat in 2007.
Ian Poulter, the defending champion, is also looking to create a little piece of history this week. If the Ryder Cup player, who also won the WGC-Accenture Matchplay Championship in 2010, can claim his third WGC title he would become only the second player after Woods to defend a WGC title.