McIlroy equipped to mount successful title defence
RORY McILROY and his parents, Gerry and Rosemary, have been living the high life in Suite 'No 1' at the world-famous, seven-star Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai this week, WRITES KARL MacGINTY.
Yet there's only one place the Holywood youngster wants to be come Sunday night and that's on top of the leaderboard at the Dubai Desert Classic.
World No 9 McIlroy, one of eight Irish in action here this week, held-out for a dramatic first Tour victory at The Emirates Club last February.
Yet the 20-year-old believes he's much better equipped now to meet the challenge of becoming the first man to successfully defend the title in this tournament's 21-year history.
"I've progressed a lot as a player in the last 12 months," said McIlroy, who signed a new three-year contract with Burj owners Jumeirah, on Tuesday.
He still awaits a second win, but has an impressive string of nine top-seven finishes in 10 events since finishing third at August's US PGA.
"I've put myself in the position to win a lot of golf tournaments since last year. Though I haven't quite finished it off, I've learnt a lot from those experiences and I feel a more rounded player now.
"I'm a lot more comfortable playing in final rounds and in final groups," added McIlroy, whose game fits the testing course at The Emirates Club like a glove.
Shane Lowry brought dad Brendan and mum Bridget from Clara to Dubai this week for a richly-deserved sunshine break in the desert ... yet it's strictly business for the 22-year-old Irish Open champ as he tries to wrest his good friend McIlroy's title away from him.
Dubai Desert Classic,
Live, Sky Sports 6.0 and 10.30am