Settled McIlroy relishing return to action in Abu Dhabi

1/14/2014 12:01:00 PM
Rory McIlroy cut a happy figure ahead of his 2014 bow  (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy cut a happy figure ahead of his 2014 bow (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy admits he cannot wait to get his 2014 European Tour campaign under way at this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, as he attempts to build on a strong finish to last year.

The Northern Irishman, who welcomed in the New Year by proposing to his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, ended The 2013 Race to Dubai with back-to-back top six finishes, before winning the Australian Open to end a frustrating season on a high note.

Add into the fray the fact that McIlroy has finished outside the top 11 only once in six appearances at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, finishing runner up twice in 2011 and 2012, and it is easy to see why the 24 year old is starting the new season in high spirits.

“I feel like I'm much better prepared heading into the first event of the season than I was last year,” he said. “My swing is in a much better place.  I've done some really good work on that, at the end of last year, and in the couple of weeks that I've had here leading into this tournament.

“So things are really looking good. I'm in a really good frame of mind and I feel like I've built a lot of momentum at the back end of last year and I’m going to try to continue that into this season.”

The former World Number One believes Abu Dhabi is the perfect place to launch the new term, having started each of the past six seasons in the same way.

“It's a golf course that's always sort of suited my eye,” he said.  “I've always done well here.  I had a couple of chances to win, and Martin Kaymer was just too good those times.  It’s a long golf course and you've got to hit it well off the tee and take advantage of the par fives, which I feel like I can do.

“It's a perfect way to start the year. It's always a very strong field and a good, competitive first event.  I don't think there's any better place to start the season, especially for me, because you get two weeks to practise either here or Dubai to lead up to this tournament and feel really well prepared.”