BMW Masters: Danny Willett out to take advantage of Rory McIlroy absence

Danny Willett
Danny Willett

Danny Willett is determined to strike in Rory McIlroy’s absence to take the lead in the European Order of Merit.

With the Northern Irishman out of action this week, Willett knows a strong performance at the BMW Masters in China will put him in the driving seat for top spot in the Race to Dubai rankings.

The Sheffield golfer must finish 28th or better in Shanghai to overturn McIlroy’s 74,213 point lead heading into the final event of the season, the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai next week.

“If we can go to Dubai somewhere close or in front, or hopefully in front by a good ways, it will make it really good,” Willett said.

“I’m just going to try and do the same as last week, knuckle down and work hard and hopefully can have another good week this week.

“It would be great to win the Race to Dubai. It’s nice to win tournaments and to play certain events, but an Order of Merit means you’ve played great over a 12-month period, not just a one-off.”

The 28-year-old must also produce a strong performance to ensure claiming top spot will be a straight shootout between himself and McIlory.

Victory in China would be enough for one of Shane Lowry, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace or Justin Rose to move top of the rankings by Monday.

Willett will play alongside Lowry and Oosthuizen in the first two rounds, with the group last out on Thursday at 2.50am.

He is expecting a tough test from the Lake Malaren course in Shanghai.

“It all depends on the weather but I would have thought it would be like it was in the tournament last week, – a bit windy and chilly.” he said. “It depends on who brings their game.

“I’ve played it a few times now and it’s a good, strong course.

“You’ve got very segregated greens, you’ve got to hit areas and then hole some nice putts.”

Matt Fitzpatrick is chasing a place in the European top ten and sits just 60,873 points off thenth spot.

But more important for the Sheffield golfer is securing a top 50 place in the world golf rankings by the end of 2015.

His remarkable second half of the year has seen him rise to 51st in the world, leaving him agonisingly close to the top 50 berth which will guarantee him a place at next year’s Masters at Augusta.

Fitzpatrick tees off at 2.20am alongside Soren Kjeldsen and Thongchai Jaidee.