WATCH - European Tour epic Mannequin Challenge

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Watch the European Tour stars take on the Mannequin Challenge as they prepare for the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

How many players can you name from this clip?

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McIlroy aiming to finish season on a high

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Rory McIlroy.

The Northern Irishman, after opting to pull out of the Turkish Airlines Open a couple of weeks ago, is 1,176,414 points behind Race to Dubai leader Henrik Stenson, which means the Swede, and second-ranked Danny Willett, will have to play exceptionally poorly for him to retain his European crown.

But on a golf course where his worst finish in the past seven starts is a tied 11th place in 2011, the world No2 is keen to win the European Tour’s season-ending championship for the third time.

An added motivation would have been the fact that McIlroy had a chance to regain his world No1 ranking from Jason Day with a win, but that will have to wait after Russell Knox’s withdrawal from the tournament brought down the strength of the field.

The winner now gets 52 world ranking points on Sunday instead of the 54 if world No18 Knox had played, and that won’t be enough for McIlroy to overtake Day.

“It’s always good to be back here. I have great memories from this place, so, yeah, looking forward to the week,” said the 27-year-old.

“I feel like my game is in pretty good shape. I’ve played this golf course pretty well in the past, and hopefully can play it just as well, if not better this week. It would be a good way to finish the year on a high and get a victory and lift the trophy and hopefully make the turkey taste a bit better at Christmas.

“Mathematically, I can win the Race to Dubai, but it’s not going to happen. I wouldn’t hold my breath. I think the three guys that are ahead of me are playing very good golf, especially the two Swedes, Henrik (Stenson) and Alex (Noren).

“So I don’t expect those guys to play badly this week. I’m just concentrating on trying to win the golf tournament and if I can do that, I’ll be very happy.”

McIlroy was happy with his season with three wins and the FedEx Cup title, but would have liked to have done better in the majors.

“It’s been good. I’ve won a couple of things that I hadn’t won before. I won the Irish Open, which a huge thing personally for me.

“It might not be the biggest tournament in the world, but personally, in my mind, it is one of the biggest I play all year. And to win the FedEx Cup, as well, was big,” said McIlroy.

“My play in majors was disappointing.…missing the cut at the US Open and the PGA. Apart from majors aside, I feel like it’s been a pretty good, consistent year.”

McIlroy said the biggest lesson from the season was not to get too obstinate about his golf.

“I’d like sometimes not to be too proud. I felt like I went long enough without asking advice on putting because that was the thing that was letting me down,” he added.

“I wanted to figure it out on my own but really needed a second opinion. Not that I was too proud, but I was too stubborn. I wanted to figure it out on my own because I   always feel that way you take ownership of it and it’s yours.

“But sometimes you need a second opinion. I got that in August, and it really turned the season round for me.”

McIlroy courted controversy by withdrawing from the Turkish event at the last minute. It also killed his Race to Dubai chances, but he maintained he was satisfied with his decision and that it did not harm his image.

“I think I do enough good things on and off course, charity wise and the way I carry myself, that pulling out of a couple of events is not going to change that,” said McIlroy.

“I’d rather go to Turkey wanting to win the tournament than go there not wanting to win it and finish 40th. What good does that do the tournament?

“The biggest way to promote golf is not my face on posters but winning the tournament at the end of the week and that won’t happen if I don’t feel comfortable being there.

“Will I play there next year? I don’t know…after what I read this year, probably not.”

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Confidence boost sets up Willett to put turbulent year behind him

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Danny Willett.

Obviously, the Masters champion is second in the Race to Dubai going into the final week of the season, and leader Henrik Stenson will also be a huge factor, but Willett is not going to worry about where the Swede, or his compatriot and third-ranked Alex Noren, finish in the $8 million season-ending championship of the European Tour.

Willett has struggled over the last couple of months – a combination of a tiring and relentless schedule and slight swing changes to protect his suspect back – but weekend rounds in the 60s in last week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge considerably brightened his mood and boosted his confidence.

And an upbeat Willett said he was eager to put an end to a “turbulent” year by claiming his first Race to Dubai  title.

“It’s been a very turbulent year,” said Willett. “We’ve had the ultimate of highs and a few real lows the last few months and now here we are.

“We’ve got four rounds of golf  left in what’s been a pretty long season and slightly different situation to last year, but we still need to win the golf tournament to win the Race to Dubai.

“We’re 300,000 points behind Henrik. If we can do what we can control this week and we can win a golf tournament, then nobody can take it away from us.

“It could be an exciting week. I’ve got a little bit more confidence after the last couple of rounds last week. It was nice to finally get a few nice rounds under par and get some good feelings back there and come to a golf course now that doesn’t necessarily suit me 100 per cent as much as it does the other guys.

“But if we can get it in play off the tee then it definitely suits good mid-iron play which is one of our strengths and good putting.”

Willett finds himself in a similar position to 2015 when he arrived at the last event in direct competition with McIlroy, who won the tournament and the No1 crown.

And while he ticked off two of his major golfing ambitions this year – winning a major and playing in the Ryder Cup – Willett wants to put the cherry on the year with a Race to Dubai triumph.

“I’d love to finish first on the Race to Dubai at least once in my life,” he said. “If I were to finish second for the rest of my life, it’s not that you’re playing bad golf, you’ve had a massively consistent year.

“You look at the last few years who the champions are, and you’ve got world No1s, you’ve got fantastic golfers. To be able to do that over the course of a year and to finish above them is amazing.”

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