Rory McIlroy takes part in the pro-am event Wednesday prior to the WGC-HSBC… (Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images )
At this time last year, Rory McIlroy was riding the momentum of a PGA Championship title and cruising toward victory in the Race to Dubai, the season-long competition on the European Tour.
This fall, the golfer from Northern Ireland is scrambling to stay afloat.
Heading into the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in China this week, McIlroy remains just outside the Top 60 golfers who qualify for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
"It's not an embarrassment ... it's just the reality," he said on Wednesday. "And the reality is I haven't played well enough to sort of be a factor."
His rocky 2013 season began with a controversial switch to a new brand of clubs. Then came a shift in management and persistent rumors of a split with girlfriend and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
Asked about their relationship, McIlory gave a slightly vague answer referring to Wozniacki's recent tournament victory.
"Yeah, I was very happy she won in Luxembourg, her first title of the season, so I sent her a congratulatory message," he said.
The field in Shanghai includes Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Ian Poulter. Ryan Moore, who defeated Gary Woodland in a playoff at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia this week, will also play.
"Yeah, it's a big week obviously; it's sort of make or break," McIlroy said. "If I don't play good enough here, then you know, there's a good chance I won't play in Dubai."
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