Friday, 19 March 2010
Abu Dhabi Golf Championship - Previews  (Getty Images)
Abu Dhabi Golf Championship - Previews (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy has challenged himself to meet three main targets in 2010 as he bids to secure his place among golf's elite.

Last year McIlroy posted a first win in Dubai, played his part in a thrilling climax to the European Tour season and broke into the world's top ten.

And in keeping with his confident approach to everything he encounters, the 20 year old has three main goals this year - to break into the world's top five, convert high finishes into multiple wins worldwide and put himself into contention at the Majors on a regular basis.

Although McIlroy knows his rise makes him an easy target, and any fall in ranking or performance could be harshly seen as a failure, he is eager to make a bright start to his season at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship this week after a break over Christmas.

"There will probably be more pressure this year," McIlroy said. "I have got into the top ten which brings pressures in itself to try to stay there and to try to move higher. It's a lot more difficult to move from tenth to fifth than from 40th to 20th.

"One of my big goals is to win more this year. I felt I put myself in a lot of good positions to win last year and to be able to only win once was slightly disappointing.

"Not achieving at least what I did last year would be disappointing, I want to try to improve every year. Over the last two years it has been a steady progression and I would be very disappointed if I didn't achieve what I did last year, I want to surpass that and try to achieve the high goals I have set myself."

McIlroy recognises his often criticised putting which has let him down on occasions needs to improve, after posting eight top ten finishes following his breakthrough victory at the Dubai Desert Classic - including a career-best third at the US PGA Championship.

"I got a taste in the US PGA last year, but I feel like I am more of an experienced player than I was and those experiences can help me in the Majors," he added.

"Hopefully, if I can get my game in good shape for those four weeks, I will have a good chance."

McIlroy will play a split schedule this year after taking up a US PGA Tour card, but has reaffirmed his commitment to Europe by insisting the Race to Dubai remains a goal after being pipped to the European Number One honours by the brilliant Lee Westwood last year.

"I haven't written off the Race to Dubai as I will only be playing two or three fewer European Tour events. And if I can turn some of those top fives or top threes into a win, that will make a huge difference," said McIlroy.

"The Majors and World Golf Championship events can also help you towards that; it is still a big goal of mine. Winning the money title is as a result of playing well throughout the year, so if I can concentrate on trying to play well in all those tournaments and hopefully getting a few more wins then hopefully that can take care of itself."

Westwood headlines the field in Abu Dhabi which contains eight of the world's top 20 including Henrik Stenson, defending champion Paul Casey, Geoff Ogilvy and last year's runner-up and former winner Martin Kaymer.

 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1KAYMER, MartinGER18-21
2POULTER, IanENG18-20
3MCILROY, RoryNIR18-19
4LOWRY, ShaneIRL18-17
5OOSTHUIZEN, LouisRSA18-16
T6CANETE, ArielARG18-15
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