McIlroy wants solid finish to 2012 season, even with money titles in bag

Rory McIlroy at the UBS Hong Kong Open
Getty Images
Rory McIlroy hit some plastic golf balls off Victoria Peak on Tuesday to promote his return to the UBS Hong Kong Open.
Bernie McGuire
Associated Press

Series: European Tour

Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 | 5:41 p.m.

HONG KONG -- The pressure is off Rory McIlroy on the European Tour money list. He's clinched it with two tournaments to go, two tournaments he'd love to own to cap off a stellar year.

Having secured the money title on Sunday at the Barclays Singapore Open with a third-place finish, McIlroy says he can relax a little. At least until Thursday, when he begins his title defense at the UBS Hong Kong Open.

''It's nice not having to worry about the Race to Dubai title knowing that I've already wrapped it up,'' McIlroy said on Tuesday on Victoria Peak, off which he hit plastic balls in a promotional event with Padraig Harrington, Y.E. Yang, Paul Lawrie and Matt Kuchar.

''Matteo (Manassero) did me a big favor on Sunday winning the playoff in Singapore, so I owe him for that,'' he added. ''So to be able to come here and really only have to play half decent is a nice feeling, but then I want to end the year with another victory.''

McIlroy joined Luke Donald as the only players to win the money titles on the European Tour and PGA Tour in the same season. He's the youngest to top Europe's money list in 32 years, and more accolades are expected. McIlroy has been shortlisted for player of the year on the PGA Tour, and it's nearly inevitable in Europe as well.

''It's very nice to win the money list title on both main tours and while it's been nice to emulate what Luke Donald did last year and nice to be able to pick up all these end-of-year awards, I just want to keep improving,'' he said. ''I just want to become a better golfer and win more tournaments, and with that more major championship titles will come.''

This is his sixth visit to Hong Kong Golf Club, the first time in the Faldo Junior Series in 2006. He was runner-up in the Hong Kong Open in 2008 and 2009, and holed out from a greenside bunker on the final hole last year to win by two strokes.

The European Tour finale in Dubai is next week.