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Rory set to play it smarter

RORY McILROY is bound to find himself even more in demand after what he did in Dubai this weekend.

But the 23-year-old - world No 1, European Tour No 1, Ryder Cup hero and leading money-winner in the States this year as well - says he is going to take a ruthless approach next season.

"I've done my schedule. I'm sticking to it and I'm not letting anyone persuade me to go anywhere else," McIlroy said after winning the DP World Tour title with five closing birdies.

"I've learned my lesson over the last couple of years."

The Northern Irishman, yet to unveil a deal with Nike reported to be worth £156million over the next 10 years, is still hesitant to make public all his 2013 tournament plans, however.

Tiger Woods has never done that before the start of a season and with each passing month McIlroy is moving closer to the American's league in terms of superstardom around the world.

He has said he intends to play less and concentrate on quality more than quantity, but when asked what places he went to this year and will not be going to next year, he replied: "I don't really want to make any comment on that so far. I guess Singapore and Hong Kong are question marks on whether they are going to be on the Tour schedule. They are probably ones that you can omit.


"Plus maybe Memphis before the US Open. I added that this year just to try to get a little bit more golf because I was only playing two-round tournaments!"

By that remark McIlroy showed he had not forgotten the fact that he missed four cuts in five starts in mid-season, but what a long time ago that must feel now.

Dubai was his fourth victory since and fifth of the year and he now holds a huge lead over Luke Donald - joint third in what was also his final 2012 event - at the top of the world rankings.

McIlroy's next start is in Abu Dhabi in January and before the US Masters in April he expects to be at the world championships in Tucson and Miami, defend the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens in between and have his final warm-up for Augusta at the Houston Open.

He is also determined to show he can conquer Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship, in mid-May. In three visits he has yet to survive the cut.

"I'm determined. I feel like I'm a good enough player to get around that course.

"I'm a good enough player hopefully to get around any course, but I at least want to see what the weekend is like there."

McIlroy looked as if he might be denied yesterday when Justin Rose produced a dazzling 62 - a course record by two and his lowest European Tour round by two.

It was nearly a 61 when an amazing eagle attempt from around 100 feet on the final green almost stopped on a ridge and then trickled down to the holeside.

But from two behind McIlroy turned on the style to triumph by two with a 66 and 23-under-par total that matched Lee Westwood's 2009 tournament record.

Rose finished runner-up both in the event and on the Order of Merit. That was worth £968,000 - McIlroy's reward was more than £1.4m - but there was also his climb to a career-high fourth in the world to celebrate.

Leading 2007 money-winner Rose, who has knocked Westwood out of the top four for the first time in three years, said of his amazing putt: "I knew it was hero or zero - I was one roll away from looking like an idiot.

"I actually got goosebumps. I thought it was going to go in for a second."

It was only in September, of course, that his dramatic 35-foot putt against Phil Mickelson helped Europe win the Ryder Cup.

"This was probably four Mickelsons, maybe five," he joked.