McIlroy chases Donald feat in Shanghai

McIlroy chases Donald feat in Shanghai

SHANGHAI - Agence France-Presse
McIlroy chases Donald feat in Shanghai

Rory McIlroy lines up a putt during his World Golf Final match against Charl Schwartzel in Antalya. REUTERS photo

World number one Rory McIlroy is banking on a strong showing at China’s BMW Masters as he bids to match Luke Donald’s historic end-of-year achievement in topping the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic.

McIlroy, who won his second major at the U.S. PGA Championship in August, leads the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings and the U.S. PGA Tour’s money list with just a handful of tournaments remaining in 2012.

But the 23-year-old Northern Irishman will face a strong challenge in the $7 million tournament starting today from a stellar field including three of the world’s top five players -- Donald, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose.

Donald, a former world number one, became the first player ever to top both money lists in a single season last year.

McIlroy is nearly $2 million ahead of the missing Tiger Woods in the United States but things are tighter in Europe, with only around 800,000 euros ($1 million) separating McIlroy from South African Branden Grace in third spot. Rose is second. The huge purse on offer this week means a good showing is essential for all three.

“I have finished second in the Race to Dubai two of the last three years so I would like to knock that off and try and do what Luke (Donald) did last year and win the money on both Tours,” said McIlroy, who won on the same Shanghai course last year when it was an invitational event. It is now sanctioned by the European Tour.