Majors not money the motivation for McIlroy
Published 21/11/2012 | 05:00
MONEY might make the world go around, but it no longer motivates Rory McIlroy.
With a staggering €10.86m already won on the world's fairways in 2012, including his Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup bonuses, McIlroy now has banked €25.235m in prize money alone since turning professional in October 2007.
That figure does not include the millions the hugely marketable 23-year-old has earned from sponsorship deals, endorsement contracts and appearance fees, which can reach as high as seven figures a pop.
With Nike poised to sign world golf's most marketable player on a mega-deal worth a reputed $200m-plus over the next 10 years, McIlroy clearly is going to make more money in his career than even Darren Clarke or Zsa Zsa Gabor could spend.
It begged the question put to McIlroy in Dubai: "You don't need to worry about money again, so what's the motivation?"
"Winning as many Majors and other tournaments as possible," he replied. "The real benchmark for me is trying to see how many Majors I can win. I got one in 2011; backed it up this year and I'd love to say 2013 will be similar."
Like Tiger Woods, are McIlroy's sights set on the record 18 achieved by Jack Nicklaus?
"No," he insisted. "I'm not going to put a number on it. I never have and never will. I just want to get my third and, when I do that, I want to try and get my fourth."
Still, he allowed himself one peek forward at the prospect of making history as the first European to complete a career Grand Slam. "I'm halfway there," McIlroy said in reference to the US Open and PGA titles he's already won. "So, that's the next obvious goal for me."
He'll join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and, of course, Woods in the most select club in golf should he don a Green Jacket at the Masters and sup from his own Claret Jug at the British Open.
McIlroy shrugged off the recent suggestion by Nick Faldo, one of his boyhood mentors, that switching to Nike clubs could be "dangerous."
"Not at all," the youngster insisted. "I think all the manufacturers make great equipment nowadays and it's all very, very similar. I mean a lot of the companies get their clubs made at the same factories as each other.
"I don't think it will make a difference at all," added McIlroy, who wields Titleist clubs in anger for the last time during this week's DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour's $8m finale on the Earth Course at Dubai's Jumeirah Golf Estate.
After three years in which the Tour's Race to Dubai went down to the final event, McIlroy wrapped up the 2012 title with his third place finish at the Singapore Open last Sunday week.
Inevitably, this led to calls for change. Luke Donald, whose history-making feat of topping the money list in the US and Europe in 2011 was emulated by McIlroy this year, has added his voice to that chorus.
"This week certainly is a little bit more of an anticlimax than the European Tour probably would want," Donald observed. "Obviously, that's going to happen sometimes if you base it on a Money List.
"The European Tour may want to think about adding a scenario where that doesn't happen and incorporate either a play-off (points) system or some other way of ensuring it goes down to the wire. I think that makes it more exciting.
"Last year when I played here, I felt I had a bit of a target on my back. There was quite a lot of pressure and I think that reflected in the tournament – leading to some exciting storylines."
"No," was McIlroy's blunt reply when asked if he felt the Race to Dubai format needed changing.
He admitted being irked not to win the FedEx Cup after sensational back-to-back victories in two of the four play-offs. Brandt Snedeker lifted the FedEx Cup and the $10m bonus with his victory at the final event, the Tour Championship.
"I felt a little hard done by, playing so well (in the play-offs) and not being able to win that," the Ulsterman admitted.
Graeme McDowell, who can work his way into the top three in the final Race to Dubai table with a win next Sunday, insists: "The format doesn't need changing. After what he was done this year, Rory thoroughly deserves to be No 1 in both the States and Europe."
With the Race to Dubai concluding with four limited field events in 2013 (BMW Masters, HSBC Champions, the new Turkish Open and DP World Tour Championship), the European Tour has an opportunity to introduce a points system along the lines of the FedEx Cup.
However, George O'Grady, the Tour's chief executive, isn't keen to go down that path.
Right now McIlroy believes he can put behind him the disappointment of last Friday's missed cut at the Hong Kong Open and challenge strongly for this fifth win in 2012 on Sunday (and a €1.04m winner's cheque).
"Mentally, I felt a little bit flat last week," he explained. "It's never nice to miss a cut, but it was good to have A couple of days off to regroup. I feel fine."