With the buzz around top-ranked Rory McIlroy, some of the other big names playing at the Dubai World Championship can be forgotten.

The two-time major winner, who already has wrapped up the European Tour money title, is the favorite to win the season-ending tournament that starts Thursday. But several other Ryder Cup stars, including Ian Poulter and second-ranked Luke Donald, would like to cap off their seasons with a victory.

There are others, including South African newcomer Branden Grace, who know a strong finish could help them move up the rankings and qualify for a major in 2013. A top-30 finish gets them into the British Open, top 15 into the U.S. Open and a top 10 on the money list gets them a share of the $3.75 million in bonus money.

The 13th-ranked Poulter, who struggled earlier in the year, has played some of his best golf since helping lead Europe to the Ryder Cup victory over the United States in September. After his putting fueled the come-from-behind victory, Poulter won the HSBC Champions for his second career World Golf Championships title. He also finished second last week at the Australian Masters.

"I'm looking forward to this week," said Poulter, whose penalty in a two-way playoff cost him a shot at the 2010 Dubai title. "I guess I'm in some pretty good form, so feeling like we can end the year on a very high note and move further in the world rankings, which would be very pleasing."

"I can produce, and it is within me," Poulter said. "It comes out in the Ryder Cup. So why shouldn't I be able to produce that week in, week out?

"We just have to see how long we can keep doing it for. When you look at the best players in the world, they are doing it week in, week out. So there is no reason why I shouldn't sit among those guys."

Donald arrived in Dubai last year on the cusp of making history as the first golfer to win the PGA and European Tour money titles.

Big-hitting Nicolas Colsaerts won a second victory on the European Tour in 2012, and he could move up one spot into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai with a strong finish.

Belly putter decision: The USGA and R&A are close to announcing their position on long putters that are anchored to the body. That they have pledged to make an announcement by the end of the year has most believing a ban is imminent.