RORY McILROY enjoyed a rare bogey-free round to finish joint-sixth in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and secure his place in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Having decided not to play in next week's Turkish Airlines Open, McIlroy had to climb from 62nd in the money list – which he won last year – to inside the top 60 to qualify for Dubai, and did so with plenty to spare.
The former world number one held a two-shot lead after an opening 65, but a second-round 72 ultimately proved costly and a closing 69 left him nine shots behind winner Dustin Johnson.
"It was a good week. It was a step in the right direction for sure," said McIlroy, who moved up to 38th in the Race to Dubai.
"I don't think anyone could have competed with Dustin this week. He played very, very well and obviously is a deserved champion.
"I just didn't make enough birdies. I didn't take advantage of the par fives today and some of the short par fours.
"It's probably one of my only bogey-free rounds of the year but it just didn't contain enough birdies. It's something to build on and nice to go into an off-week now and I know that I'm into Dubai."
McIlroy, who remains without a win in 2013 after five victories last year, added: "It would have been nice to try to get a win. I have three more tournaments left this year and I want to try to finish the season strongly.
"Obviously I have good memories going to Dubai from winning there last year, so hopefully I can put up a strong defence of my title there."
Ryder Cup team-mate Luke Donald is not certain of his place in Dubai, but did move up from 61st to 55th on the standings after finishing joint 31st on six under.