Rory McIlroy has his eyes fixed on a third Race to Dubai crown as he heads into the European Tour’s Final Series at the Turkish Airlines Open.
The Northern Irishman tees it up at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal this week sitting at the top of the standings but that does not tell the full story of a disjointed season for the four-time Major winner.
He flew out of the blocks with a win at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February which came in a run of four consecutive European Tour top tens before a second victory of the year at the WGC - Cadillac Match Play. A sixth top ten in eight events at the US Open was to follow before McIlroy sustained an ankle injury while playing football in early July, meaning he could not defend his Open Championship title at St Andrews.
He returned to action with a 17th-placed finish at the US PGA Championship in mid-August and is now aiming to win again and keep his place as The European Tour's number one.
"I'm happy to be here and health-wise, I'm pretty much back to where I need to be," he said. "I've started to train the way I was before the injury again and I'm happy about that. I'm trying to get my game back into the shape that I know that I can and feel like I've made a few steps in the right direction. This week is another opportunity to see where my game is, try to get into contention and try to win.
"I feel like there's a lot's happened and a lot of time has gone by since that last win of mine back in May. I want to try and get back into contention and there's no better place than this week.
"I'd like to win The Race to Dubai. Like to win at least one of these last three events I'm playing. That would make me feel better about the end of the year, from when I injured my ankle at the start of July.
"If I was to go from then to the end of the season without another win, especially with how I was playing up until that point, it would be very disappointing. So I've got three opportunities coming up to try to get a win or two on the board and end this year on a positive.
“It's sort of been two steps forward and one step back a little bit since I've come back from injury, and I would just like to keep moving forward these next four weeks and try to finish the season on a positive note.”
Should McIlroy win The Race to Dubai, it will be the third time in four years that he has finished top of the pile and a fifth top two finish in the last seven seasons.
Despite his injury lay off, the 26 year old still sits third in the World Ranking and those successes have enabled him to keep his problems this year in perspective.
"I definitely wouldn't call what I went through a low," he said. "Everyone goes through injuries and those things happen. But I don't feel like I've lost my game that much. I haven't dropped. Back in 2013 I dropped out of the top ten in the World Ranking and that was pretty tough to try to get back from there. But again, it was nice to be able to finish that season on a high with a win down in Australia at the end of the year.
"I guess I always have the belief. The good thing for me is that I can draw on some of the great performances and the memories I have from winning big tournaments and knowing that if I've done that before, there's no reason why I can't do that again.
"To win The Race to Dubai for the third time would be a great achievement and that's obviously what I'm trying to do the next few weeks.”