Rolex Series

Rory McIlroy proud of 2023 form as Harry Vardon Trophy winner tees up in Dubai

Rory McIlroy is delighted to have had a successful campaign on both sides of the Atlantic as he tees up for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Rory McIlroy

The 34-year-old has prepared for the fifth and final Rolex Series event of 2023 by securing the fifth Harry Vardon Trophy of his career, which has come three months after finishing fourth in the FedEx Cup - something he has won on three occasions.

McIlroy is proud of his accomplishments in a busy 2023 campaign which has seen him seal victories at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and Genesis Scottish Open, claim three top-ten finishes at Major Championships, including sole second at the U.S. Open, win once on the PGA TOUR and help Team Europe regain the Ryder Cup in Rome in September.

"I'd say I went through a period in my career where I didn't prioritise it, I guess. I won my third one in 2015 and if you look at 2016 through to 2021, I probably could have done more to try to prioritise it," McIlroy said on winning the 2023 Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex.

"The last couple of years, especially last year, I wanted to win both, the FedEx Cup, and I guess post-2015 I prioritised America a little bit more. I won three FedEx Cups in that time-frame and I've also won a couple other Race to Dubais.

"It's hard. It's hard to do it on both tours. Only a handful of guys have ever really done it. You know, I'm fortunate enough to be one of those, but I've been able to figure out how to excel on both sides of the pond."

The World Number Two can play with relative freedom on the Earth course - a layout where he has been successful twice before, but not since 2015 - having claimed his fifth Race to Dubai Rankings crown with an event to spare.

As a result, he moved clear into third place for the most victories, one behind Seve Ballesteros and three behind Colin Montgomerie.

"I've played well when I've came back over to The European Tour this year and won two Rolex Series events and had some other really high finishes in tournaments that give a lot of points," he added.

"It's really nice to have my name on the Harry Vardon Trophy for the fifth time and just be one behind Seve and still a few behind Monty.

"I knew now that I could come here and relax, I still wanted to come here and win this golf tournament. This golf course sets up well for me and it's a place I've always done well at. It's nice to come in here with at least that off my mind so I can just concentrate on the golf tournament."

As part of the Strategic Alliance between the DP World Tour and PGA TOUR, a direct and formal pathway has been established for players to earn dual membership status.

The top ten players, not otherwise exempt, on the 2023 Race to Dubai Rankings will gain 2024 PGA TOUR exemptions, while maintaining their DP World Tour status.

McIlroy believes this opportunity can only be a positive to help the development of golfers.

Rory McIlroy

"It's a formalising of the pathway that's always sort of been there," the Northern Irishman said. "I got into the top 50 in the world at the end of 2008, and in 2009, I was going to start in the Middle East and then I was going to the States and play the Match Play, the Honda, the whatever else. It's always been there. It's just a bit more official.

"But at the same time, you know, the reason that the DP World Tour started with was to give professional golfers opportunities to play golf tournaments and earn a living.

"So if you look at what the mission statement is for the DP World Tour, it's to give professional golfers opportunities to play their sport, make a living, and there's no better place to have opportunity and to make a living than what's going on on the PGA TOUR.

"So I don't see that side of the argument at all. For golfers playing on the DP World Tour, I think it's an amazing thing that's happened and as I said, is formalises a pathway to get to the very top level of professional golf."

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