By John O'Brien
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - World number one Rory McIlroy finished with a flourish at the Singapore Open on Sunday when a monster eagle putt at the par-five 18th lifted the Briton up to third place, but like all champions, he was disappointed not to win.
McIlroy struggled to maintain his focus and rhythm at a tournament hampered by three lengthy weather delays on the first two days but he was back to his brilliant best on Sunday, carding a six-under 65 to finish on 10-under 274.
"I played really well this afternoon... no bogeys and finished with an eagle on the last it was very nice," McIlroy told reporters after ending the $6 million co-sanctioned event three shots adrift of Matteo Manassero of Italy.
"I played well all week but just didn't convert the birdie chances I gave myself," said the Northern Irishman, who was cheered on all week by tennis-playing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki.
"I missed a lot of putts over the last four days. If I had holed a few more it would have been a different story. I am very happy how I played today and how I finished."
McIlroy's third place finish was good enough to secure the European Tour order-of-merit title with two events remaining, meaning he has topped the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic, but his job was made much easier with the absence of his nearest rivals in Singapore.
"The money list has been cheapened a little bit by not having the leading players at events towards the end of the year," he added.
"It's still an award for consistency and you need to play well throughout the year in all the tournaments you attend.
"I am going to end up playing 13 or 14 events on the European Tour this year. That's obviously a lot less than a lot of other people but I have played in the bigger tournaments with the higher prize funds, which has allowed me to get to the top."
McIlroy will defend his Hong Kong Open title next week and while he goes there on the back of a second and a third in his last two events, he is still hopeful of picking up another victory before closing out his 2012 campaign.
"Finishing in the top two or three isn't too bad but I said I wanted to win at least once more before the end of the season and I still have two more tournaments in which to do that."
Following the season-ending Dubai World Championships McIlroy will take a break and that start looking at how he can make himself a better player in 2013.
"I will keep working on different aspects of the game to improve next year,' he added. "I feel I have got a lot more comfortable at hitting left to right which has made a huge difference to right-hand pin positions.
"It's been nice that year-after-year my results have improved and I would like to keep that going and like to feel I am a better golfer next year than I was this year.
"I have got more shots, am more experienced and more consistent."
(Editing by Patrick Johnston)