Rory McIlroy says he will aim to close in on Colin Montgomerie’s record eight-place European number one spot after clinch the 2022 title on Sunday.
McIlroy’s fourth-place finish at the DP World Tour Championship earned him the Harry Vardon Trophy for the fourth time – and his first since 2015.
He is the second man – after Henrik Stenson in 2013 – to top the PGA Tour and the European rankings in the same year.
“I know Monty has won eight of those things,” McIlroy, 30, told BBC Sport.
“Hopefully I can continue the journey and try to get closer to him.”
However, the Northern Irishman admits pairing, let alone improving the Scot’s record, will be a tall order.
‘Increasingly difficult’ to dominate both tours – McIlroy
“It’s getting harder and harder to win both races of the season,” added McIlroy, who reclaimed the world number one spot by winning the CJ Cup title on the PGA Tour last month.
“That’s why I’m even prouder to do it this year. I’ve played really consistent golf.
“After the US season ended at the end of August, I really made it a priority to come back to Europe and play and try to earn the DP World Tour rankings and luckily I was able to do that.”
McIlroy’s latest Race to Dubai triumph places him third in the honors roll in European Tour history behind the eight and six titles won by Montgomerie and Seve Ballesteros.
The success of the world number one in 2022 puts him beyond the three titles won by Lee Westwood, Sandy Lyle and Peter Oosterhuis.
Perhaps surprisingly, Sir Nick Faldo only won the European Order of Merit title in 1983 and 1992.
But while McIlroy is keen to at least threaten Montgomerie’s haul, he acknowledged at Sunday’s tournament presentation ceremony that breaking his eight-year streak without a win at the majors will be his main focus in 2023 after playing all four This year.
After being a runner-up at the Masters in April and finishing in the top 10 at the US PGA and US Open, McIlroy shared the lead heading into the final day of The Open Championship at St Andrews to have only to settle for the third two strokes behind. the winner Cameron Smith.
“I’ve always played good golf. I had a great chance to win at St Andrew’s. I had two good chances to win the US PGA and the US Open as well I thought and a great finish at Augusta, so I just have to build on that momentum that I found in the majors and bring that into 2023.”
But in the meantime, McIlroy looks forward to some relaxation over the next few weeks after a turbulent year that has seen him in many ways become the unofficial spokesperson for the order of mainstream professional golf amid the threat posed by the LIV golf circuit as a breakaway.
“I don’t even think I’ve given it enough thought to think about everything I’ve been involved in this year.
“The playing side…the non-playing side and everything that’s happened in the world of golf this year. It’s been three years in one kind of way.
“That’s how I feel. I’m looking for some time out and I walk away from it a bit.”