HE may not officially be the best player on the world rankings, but Rory McIlroy is definitely the best player on Earth.

The Earth course at the Jumeriah estates, host venue to this week’s money-spinning DP World Tour Championship, is such a happy hunting ground for McIlroy you half-expect him to stalk the fairways brandishing a musket and wearing a pith helmet.

While the world No.2 won’t be able to capture the European Tour’s order of merit prize – he is currently sixth on the rankings and too far adrift of current leader Bernd Wiesberger – McIlroy still has another victory in his sights at one of his favourite venues.

In nine previous appearances at the season-ending showdown in this neck of the woods, the 30-year-old has won twice, has four other top-fives and has never finished lower than 20th.


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Since the Dubai showpiece started in 2009, McIlroy is a combined 129-under-par, 30 strokes better than any other player.

With this track record, it’s hardly surprising that McIlroy is not concerned that his normal caddie, Harry Diamond, is not on his bag this week.

“I feel like I could play this place blindfolded and if there’s any week where I don’t have Harry on the bag, it’s good it’s this week,” he said. “I’ve been coming back here for 10 years, I know the place like the back of my hand.”

McIlroy, with four worldwide wins this season, has played just a handful of European Tour events

in 2019 and while he would have loved the opportunity to win the rankings race for a fourth time, he knows those above him on the order are more deserving.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to do it [be European No.1] but I just haven’t played enough European Tour events,” he said.

“I haven’t played enough counting European Tour events to have a chance.

“You look at someone like Bernd Wiesberger who’s played 25, 26, 27 times. Those are the guys that deserve to be up there with a chance to win.”

One of those still in with a shout of topping the rankings is Open champion Shane Lowry. The Irishman is currently fourth but could still finish a momentous year as the European No.1. After kick-starting his campaign with victory in Abu Dhabi back in January, Lowry entered the pantheon of major champions with his mighty Open victory at Portrush in July.

Since then his form has been steady rather than spectacular but, as 2019 draws to a conclusion, Lowry is eyeing a final flourish.


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“The one thing that’s got me over the few months since the Open is that when you have bad days and you’re shooting bad scores, people say to you, ‘You won the Open, it doesn’t matter’, but it does matter,” the Irishman said.

“Every day it matters to me and I want to shoot the best score I can and I want to be the best player I can be every day.

“I’m going to go out and give my best this week but no matter what happens, I will be sitting back next week with a major trophy in my cabinet this year, and I’ll be happy with what I have.”

Meanwhile, the BBC’s ever-shrinking golf portfolio has been reduced even further after it was confirmed that Sky will be the exclusive holders of the live rights for The Masters in the UK and Ireland as of next year.

Up until 2011, the Beeb broadcast all four rounds of the opening men’s major of the season. Having lost the rights to Sky, terrestrial viewers could still watch live coverage of the third and fourth rounds from Augusta on the BBC.

Under the latest deal, however, golf fans without a Sky subscription will have to settle for a highlights package.

Sky Sports’ managing director Rob Webster said: “We are proud of our association with Augusta National, and our golf team does a great job sharing the magic of the Masters with our viewers.”