Wednesday, 24 January 2018
Rory McIlroy  (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy is delighted to return to a happy hunting ground with some early-season momentum as he prepares to tee it up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

The Northern Irishman claimed his first European Tour victory here at Emirates Golf Club in 2009 and has not finished outside the top ten in six visits since, with a second win coming in 2015.

He missed the event last season due to a rib injury that plagued his entire 2017 campaign and after a prolonged winter break since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, returned to action with a tie for third at last week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.

Now pain-free and with that impressive record behind him in Dubai, the 28 year old is raring to go and attempt to join Ernie Els as a three-time winner of this event.

"I have a lot of good memories here at the Majlis Course, first win," he said. "Played as an amateur in 2007 and I remember after that week I got to World Number One amateur.

"Won here twice. Dubai is a place that I've gotten to know very well. I've gotten to know a lot of the people very well here. You know, it's a place I love to come back to.

"I'm looking forward to getting going again. I missed it last year and I missed having a chance to win and having a chance to compete.

"It's always one of the highlights of the year for me to come and play here with the memories that I have. Looking forward to getting back out there on Thursday and trying to give myself another chance to win."

McIlroy has been practising relentlessly since the new year as he looks to put his injury behind him and reclaim his place in the top ten of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The four-time Major Championship winner revealed Monday was his first day off in just over two weeks and he believes he is in a good place to kick on after exceeding expectations in Abu Dhabi.

"Really happy with how everything went last week," he said. "If someone had said to me at the start of the week, you'd shoot 18-under par your first week back on, I thought, quite a difficult golf course.

I know that my game is in good enough shape to contend and try to win - Rory McIlroy

"The rough was up a little bit and maybe some of the greens were soft, tricky conditions on Sunday, I would have thought 18 under par would have a great chance to win.

"It was above expectations for me, to be honest. I thought if I could have shot four rounds under par and just saw some good, positive signs in my game, I would have went away happy. Played four rounds and felt no ill effects of the week.

"I guess that has changed the way I view this week a little bit because of how I played last week. I know that my game is in good enough shape to contend and try to win.

"I feel like I've got a bit of a spring back in in my step because of what happened last week and very confident in myself.

"There's no reason to think that my body won't hold up to tournament golf all this year but I'm just making sure that everything's right. I'm making sure I'm getting daily treatment with physios and doing my stretches and doing everything that I possibly can to make sure that I'm injury-free."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LI, HaotongCHN18-23
2MCILROY, RoryNIR18-22
3HATTON, TyrrellENG18-20
4LEVY, AlexanderFRA18-19
5PAISLEY, ChrisENG18-17
T6RAMSAY, RichieSCO18-16

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