Shanghai - Former world number one Rory McIlroy says he is ready to notch up his first Tour victory of 2013 at the $8.5 million World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai beginning Thursday.
Fresh from beating Tiger Woods in an exhibition in southern China on Monday, McIlroy was in confident mood at a press conference Wednesday at the Sheshan course where he has registered three top-five finishes in the past.
“I feel like I'm capable of winning this golf tournament,” he declared.
McIlroy is 62nd in the Race to Dubai standings, with only the top 60 qualifying for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai next month. A poor result this week and he could face the ignominy of not even making the field for the tournament he won last year.
It's a far cry from a year ago when he was world number one and sweeping all before him.
“It's a sort of make-or-break week,” agreed the 24-year-old world number six. “If I don't play good enough here then there's a good chance I won't play in Dubai.”
McIlroy made it clear, however, that a victory was more on his mind than not doing well. “There's a bigger chance of me winning this tournament than not playing Dubai, I feel,” he added.
McIlroy showed glimpses that he was back to his best at the BMW Masters last week, also in Shanghai. His driving was long and true but his short game let him down as he finished down the field.
“I worked a little bit on my pace putting and reading the greens better,” the Northern Irishman said.
“I threw a lot of shots away the last couple of weeks with three-putts, which you just shouldn't do. If I can get that out of my game it will take a bit of pressure off.”
If McIlroy is to get a “W” next to his name for the first time this year he will have to do it the hard way against a star-studded field at the event co-sanctioned by the US PGA, European and Asian Tours.
World number three and British Open champion Phil Mickelson of the US heads a player list that includes 40 of the world's top 50 and two other major title holders - Englishman Justin Rose (US Open) and American Jason Dufner (US PGA).
Defending champion is England's Ian Poulter and also taking part are multiple major winner Ernie Els of South Africa plus flamboyant American lefthander Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters champion.
The WGC-HSBC Champions is Asia's richest golf event, with $1 400 000 million going to the winner on Sunday.