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BELEK Turkey (Reuters) - Sergio Garcia has called Rory McIlroy's year "extraordinary" but the Spaniard is clinging to the belief that he can prevent his Ryder Cup team mate from ending the season at the top of the European money list.
McIlroy has an almost unassailable lead after lifting the British Open and U.S. PGA Championship titles and winning the European Tour's flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio.
However, the Northern Irishman could still be caught if Garcia or Welshman Jamie Donaldson or German Marcel Siem won the last two tournaments -- this week's Turkish Airlines Open and next week's DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
"Maybe Rory deserves to be the Race to Dubai champion...but there's no doubt it's nice to be a part of it, to still have a little chance of winning it," the Spaniard told reporters on the eve of the $7 million event in Turkey.
"I think he did something quite extraordinary this season. It's obviously going to be very difficult, I'm going to need a couple of really good weeks but we'll try until it's over."
Garcia is third in the Race to Dubai standings, 90,000 euros behind Donaldson and a whopping three million euros adrift of world number one McIlroy, who is skipping Turkey before returning to the circuit for the DP World Tour Championship.
The Welshman has enjoyed a stellar campaign, winning the Czech Masters, recording six more top-five finishes and securing the point that ensured Europe retained the Ryder Cup.
"Whatever happens over the next two weeks it's been the best season of my career," said Donaldson. "It gives me great foundations to build on for next year.
"If I did manage to win the Race to Dubai it would be a huge achievement but I'll have to play incredibly well and win this week and next to even stand a chance."
Siem, who trails Garcia by 130,000 euros, surged into fourth position in the money list by winning the lucrative BMW Masters in Shanghai two weeks ago.
"If Rory plays half decent in Dubai next week nobody has a chance," said the German. "I'm just going to go for it and have fun and see where it takes me.
"There are a lot of Germans out here in Turkey and they will be rooting for Martin Kaymer and myself."
Editing by Toby Davis