Rory McIlroy will play the WGC-HSBC Championship in Shanghai this week in an attempt to boost his bid for a place at the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai.
McIlroy currently lies just €4,000 short of qualification, per Sky Sports, but will not play the forthcoming event in Turkey and will thus need to notch up a good finish in China to ensure participation at the finals.
His recent form has been poor, with no wins in 2013 prior to success in an exhibition against Tiger Woods over 18 holes in Haikou earlier this week.
Track McIlroy's progress over the next four days here on Bleacher Report.
Rory McIlroy's campaign at the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai came to a tame end on Sunday, with a final round 69 seeing him finish nine-shots behind leader Dustin Johnson.
On a low-scoring day at the Sheshan International golf course, McIlroy started his round well with two goals in the first five holes, but managed just one more birdie in a bogey-less round.
The positive for McIlroy is that his performance, per the European Tour, moves him up to 31st in the Race to Dubai standings with just one event remaining, guaranteeing his participation at the end of season finals.
The 24-year-old, while someway off the pace after a disappointing second round, will be disappointed not to have made more of the opportunities available to him on the final day.
With two of the course's four par fives reachable in two shots, McIlroy attacked both holes but picked up just one shot—well below his expectations.
On the eighth, he found the water hazard just short of the green and was forced to save par after accepting a drop ball. Meanwhile, having made the green in two on 14, he two putted to claim just a birdie for his efforts.
What makes a good par on a reachable par-5? When your approach finds the hazard, but you get up & down from the fairway a la Rory McIlroy.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 3, 2013
Missed opportunity was the story of his day, with the course offering little in the way of treachery at all. Indeed, a 12-foot put on the par-four fifth was the early highlight of his day.
McIlroy will sit out the event in Turkey after his long slog in Asia, but his winless 2013 season continues with the Dubai tour finals now rapidly approaching.
After a disappointing second round, Rory McIlroy returned to something approaching his first-day form on Day 3, carding a 65 and finishing six shots adrift of the lead.
McIlroy made up for his collapse over the back nine on Day 2 with four birdies across the same stretch on his third round.
While it wasn't a dominant display—McIlroy actually lost two places from his overnight position—the Northern Irishman showed better control over his shots and was more consistent in his approach.
It wasn't a complete success, however, as McIlroy started slowly. The front nine produced two birdies and a bogey, with inconsistency again ruling the day.
However, McIlroy's recovery showed his immense skill and proved that, even when he is in frustrating form, he remains a fascinating watch.
With six shots to make up and so many of the players above him in scintillating form, winning the tournament looks to be beyond him.
However, if he can produce some level of consistency, McIlroy will leave Shanghai with a performance on which to build as he looks to rediscover his touch.
McIlroy failed to build on his excellent opening-day score as Dustin Johnson took command of the HSBC Champions during the second round.
Following his first effort of 65, McIlroy was only able to post an even-par 72 on Friday as he stayed on 7-under, five strokes behind Johnson who equalled the course record with a sparkling 63.
It could, and should, have been very different for McIlroy. He reached the turn at 10-under thanks to a hat-trick of birdies beginning at the sixth. That gave him an identical platform to Thursday's round, but on this occasion he failed to capitalise.
Bogeys punctuated his round at the 11th and 15th, before the former world No. 1 suffered a nightmare at the 18th.
His tee shot halted one yard from the water, but McIlroy ambitiously attempted to reach the green in two, this time finding the lake to cost him a drop. He appeared to have rescued the situation with a brilliant approach, but the putter misfired to leave him at level-par for the day.
The round was certainly no disaster for the Northern Irishman, who has shown enough over the first 36 holes to show he can still catch Johnson over the weekend.
However, the inconsistency of his second day's play serves as a reminder of the form that has frustrated him all year. McIlroy must get back to playing smart golf in order to utilise his undoubted natural talent.
The 18th was far from exemplary in that regard.
McIlroy's campaign at the Sheshan golf club got off to a sensational start, with a seven-under-par round of 65 placing him two shots clear of the pack on Day 1 of the tournament.
The Northern Irishman took the form shown on the back nine of his recent success over Tiger Woods into the opening day, striking eight birdies and dropping just one shot on the day.
His cause at the competition was also helped by Phil Mickelson, who surrendered a score of minus-six in the final two holes of his round to end the day at just one under par.
The American found the water twice on his 17th hole, carding a score of nine for the par-five, before bogeying the last.
The day belonged to McIlroy, though, who enjoyed a rare stretch of consistent ball-striking. Superb iron play saw him make four birdies on the back nine, and while a couple of putts slipped by, he will be mightily pleased with his day's work.
Post round, per BBC Sport, McIlroy said:
It's only one round of golf, but it's definitely the way I wanted, and needed, to start this week, keeping in mind that I obviously want to play myself into Dubai and try to pick up my first win of the season, as well.
It's one of the best rounds I've played this season. I shot 64 at Boston, so that was a good round of golf.
But this is probably better just because it was a little trickier conditions. There was a bit of breeze and you've got to play good golf to shoot seven under around this place.
He has made a great start to his pursuit of a first tournament win this year, but there are still three days for McIlroy to navigate before he can begin to celebrate a much-needed success.