Rory McIlroy is ready to spoil the hopes and dreams of many of the men looking to emulate his meteoric rise to the top at the European Challenge Tour’s Egyptian Open presented by SODIC.
The 21 year old Northern Irishman is the star attraction at the US$250,000 tournament which starts today (Wednesday) at the JW Marriott Mirage City Golf Club in Cairo. The Egyptian Open presented by SODIC is penultimate event of the Challenge Tour season before next week’s season-ending Apulia San Domenico Grand Final in Italy.
McIlory is friends with many of the Challenge Tour players in Egypt this week including defending champion Steven Tiley, Charlie Ford, Scott Jamieson, Andrew McArthur and his 2007 Walker Cup team-mate Lloyd Saltman.
All of those aforementioned players, and the rest of the 114-man field in Cairo are pushing to win or cement a place at next week’s 45-man Grand Final where the top 20 players of the year will be determined and rewarded with a place alongside McIlory on The European Tour.
But, as is befitting of any top level sportsman, the World Number Nine will show no mercy to those eyeing a Grand Final place as he bids to win the Egyptian Open presented by SODIC.
“I’d love to win here – there are least 12 World Ranking Points available here and that would do me no harm at all,” said McIlroy during the tournament Pro-Am.
“At the end of the day I am here to win the tournament. Yes I am here to help promote the event but the bottom line for me is about winning. I am confident that if I can keep the ball in play off the tee then I will have a great chance.
“People might think it’s not a great field because it is the Challenge Tour but I played amateur golf with a lot of these boys and there are some very talented players out here so it will take some great golf to win.
“The Challenge Tour guys are all very capable and the guys I played with in the amateur ranks might not have stepped up as quickly as me but it doesn’t mean that I will automatically play better than them this week – they can all shoot the same scores as me or anyone on their day so I am under no illusions about that.”
McIlroy was delighted to find a proper test of golf at the JW Marriott Mirage City Golf Club, a 7108 yard par 72 layout that requires sound course management and a hot putter to overcome it.
“It’s a really nice course and if you can keep the ball in play off the tee then you are going to have a lot of birdie chances,” continued McIlroy. “The greens are fantastic so if you can keep it in play then you will have a lot of birdie chances.
“If you can get the driver going on the par fives you can take advantage of those and my first impressions of the place are really good – the course is in immaculate condition and that is all you want from any venue. I am looking forward to getting started.”
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