McIlroy focused on game as he preps for sprint to finish of European season

Rory McIlroy at the BMW Masters
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Rory McIlroy is playing the BMW Masters in hopes of solidifying his hold on the European Tour money lead.
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 | 1:19 p.m.

SHANGHAI -- With four of the world's top five and 11 of Europe's Ryder Cup heroes in action, there is no shortage of star quality on show in the European Tour’s BMW Masters at Lake Malaren.

But while Ian Poulter and the rest are only too happy to keep talking about their incredible comeback in Chicago, there was one topic of conversation Rory McIlroy did not want to dwell on during the tournament build-up.

When asked about rumors of a forthcoming switch from Titleist to Nike -- there has even been mention of a 10-year deal worth $250 million -- the world No. 1 chose to play a dead bat.

"I'll have my management company and everyone else on that side deal with endorsements and everything like that," McIlroy said. "I'm just here to concentrate on golf this week and I've got enough to think about trying to get that ball in the hole, so no further comment on that."

As for whether he had the ambition to surpass Tiger Woods in terms of business performance, the 23-year-old replied: "I'm just doing what I'm doing -- I'm playing golf and enjoying my life.

"If that makes me more marketable, then that's great, but I'm just doing what I'm doing and enjoying it."

McIlroy has not only ascended to the top of the world rankings this season, but also grabbed his second major and won the PGA Tour money title.

Last year, Luke Donald achieved an unprecedented PGA Tour-European Tour double, winning the money titles on both sides of the Atlantic in the same season. But the young Northern Irishman is on course to match him.

He currently holds a lead of more than $560,000 over Justin Rose, but with a first prize this week in excess of $1.15 million and four more weeks still to come, the race is far from over.

"It's very important," he added. "That's the one last big goal of the year. I'll be giving it my all this week and trying to get another win."

He plays the opening round with Rose and also Lee Westwood, who even at 12th on the money list could yet deny his former stablemate just as he did three years ago.

McIlroy has the advantage of a win on the course last year. It was not an official European Tour event then, but it did have a record first prize of $1.9 million and he beat American Anthony Kim in a playoff.

"I've got great memories," he said. "It's a great layout and it's a long course -- you've got to hit it well off the tee."

Poulter is playing for the first time since his magnificent Ryder Cup performance in which he claimed four wins out of four, including the five-birdie closing stretch alongside McIlroy in the Saturday four-balls that played such a part in turning the match around.

"Obviously it's very special -- that Sunday will go down in history," Poulter said. "To get us all back together again -- all but one (Sergio Garcia) - is great.

"I haven't won yet this year, so hopefully I can do so over the next few weeks and I'd love to knock this one off," he added. "I think most guys have had to sit back and have a little think of what just happened. It did happen, we did win, it was pretty special."

The 78-strong field includes 12 Chinese players, Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal and also South African Branden Grace, who after his fifth win of the year at the Dunhill Links Championship could go to the top of the money list with another victory.



why not.#1 player in the world. GO for the money,,Tiger did.


He's blowing smoke with that statement about having his management company deal with endorsements. A Nike deal would have to include clubs and ball, and clubs are too central to a golfer's performance – the tools of his trade – to say, "Oh, I let my agent deal with that."
The Tiger-Rory bromance is probably part of this; it's either pre-deal romancing, or post-deal fraternal bonding.