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Sport Home > Golf
McIlroy back in style

James Jose / 16 January 2013

A lot can happen in 12 months. Hailed as a prodigy, Rory McIlroy rose up the ranks and arrived in Abu Dhabi last year as the World No.3.

Twelve months on, the 23-year-old came to the UAE capital as the World No.1.

And he reckons, he has come back a better man.

The Northern Ireland golfer heads a stellar field which will tee off the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at the National Course of the Abu Dhabi Golf Club from Thursday. 

“I’d like to think that I’m a better player, I’m a smarter player. You know, 12 months on, you gain experience from the different things on and off the golf course. That’s the thing about me, I try to learn every time I do something; if it’s good or bad, try to learn from my mistakes and move on. You know, I think it would be disappointing if I didn’t think I was a wiser person sitting here now than I was 12 months ago,” McIlroy said on Tuesday.

Despite sitting at the top of the rankings and the change in the order between him and Tiger Woods, McIlroy said he still approaches the game the same way.

“It doesn’t really make a difference to me. I’ve always had high expectations of myself, and every time I come into a tournament, I want to feel like I have a chance to win. And if people think I have more of a chance to win than anyone else, that’s fine, but I know that I’m going to have to play really good golf this week to have a chance and that’s what I want to try and do. It’s no different; I’ll try and approach every week the same way,” he said.

McIlroy has never won in five appearances in Abu Dhabi. He finished second in 2011 and 2012 to German Martin Kaymer and Englishman Robert Rock respectively. He is hoping to change that this weekend and lay his hands on the prestigious Falcon Trophy.

“It’s a place I have done well.  I think one problem for me the last few years has been Martin Kaymer.  He’s played really well around here and won it a couple of times, three times I think and I always came up second best.

“It would be nice to go one better this week and obviously that’s what I’m aiming for, but it’s a great field and looks like the golf course is in great shape, as well, so you know, I’ve got good memories of this golf course, and I’ve played well around here in the past, so hopefully I can do that again this week,” said McIlroy.

McIlroy signed a multi-year deal with sportswear major Nike on Monday and he said that he sometimes had to pinch himself that a lot has happened so fast in his career.

“If I had of sat and talked to you guys in September 2007 when I just turned pro at The Belfry, you know, I wouldn’t have thought that I would be sitting here as a two-time Major Champion No. 1 in the world and doing everything that I’ve done in the game already.  It’s been quite a lot faster than I thought it was going to happen.

“But you know, it just shows what you can do when you practise hard and you work hard and hopefully it’s an inspiration to a lot of young kids out there that they can go and do the same thing,” he said.

About his schedule for the season, he said: “It’s going to be three events lighter, two individual events and less The Ryder Cup, so I think I played 25 weeks last year and this year I’ll play 22 I think.  It’s not a big difference but just enough that I have enough breaks between tournaments that I feel like I’ll be ready and rested for every tournament that I play,” McIlroy said.


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