SINGAPORE -- Rory McIlroy looks set to win the European Tour money title with nearest rival Peter Hanson and the next four challengers declining to contest the last two tournaments.
McIlroy only has to finish in the top 10 at the Barclays Singapore Open this week to clinch the Race to Dubai as he is $978,000 in front of the second-place Hanson.
Englishmen Justin Rose and Ian Poulter are next, followed by South Africans Branden Grace and Ernie Els.
Poulter came from four strokes back to win the WGC-HSBC Champions in China by two shots on Sunday, rising from 13th to fourth in the money order after capturing his second WGC title.
However, all five players under McIlroy are sitting out this week’s tournaments in Singapore and the upcoming UBS Hong Kong Open.
Singapore Open organizers were holding an invitation for Hanson, but he's cited tiredness and has returned to his Florida home.
"I've been on the road three weeks now since playing the India Open, and that's a long enough time to be away from my young family and they're more important," the Swede said. "It's disappointing that it won't sort of add spice to these next two events but then given the season I've had, winning the KLM Open, playing in a winning Ryder Cup team and beating Rory last week in Shanghai (the BMW Masters) to win three out of four, I have to be very happy."
"In the bigger picture, I still have plenty of years to win the Race to Dubai and besides, given the way Rory has played this year, I feel as though he deserves to end the year No. 1."
McIlroy arrived in Singapore on Monday night for his first appearance in the event, which is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour.
Also back home in Orlando are Poulter and Rose. Poulter plans to play in the Australian Masters next week, when the Hong Kong Open also will be held.
Els, meanwhile, had his name removed from the European Tour money list because he hasn’t played in enough events to remain eligible. European Tour members are required to play 13 counting events in a year and Els’ tie for second at the WGC-HSBC Champions was only his 10th appearance on the circuit.
To stay on the Order of Merit and qualify for the season-ending event in Dubai, Els would have had to compete in this week's Singapore Open and then either the South African Open or Hong Kong Open next week. But his next scheduled tournament is the Asian Tour's Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia on Dec. 13-16.
Els was initially listed in sixth place in the "Race to Dubai" following Ian Poulter's win at the HSBC Champions, but now this will be the first time since 1997 that he does not appear on the final list. The top 60 at the end of next week qualify for Dubai.