McIlroy hopes to finish on a high
The race to be crowned No 1 in Europe may be over for Rory McIlroy, but that does not mean he will be letting his DP World Tour Championship title in Dubai go without putting up a fight.
“It’s a little bit different coming in this week and not having much to play for in terms of that, but I still want to try and finish the season off really strongly,” said the 24-year-old, who won the Race to Dubai last year when he birdied the last five holes to bag a two shot win over Justin Rose at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
This year has been notably disappointing for McIlroy who, although ranked sixth in the world, is placed only 46th in the Race to Dubai.
“It’s been an interesting year and obviously a lot of stuff has gone on, both on and off the course,” said McIlroy.
“Every year that I’ve come here, apart from 2010, I’ve been in the mix to win the Race to Dubai.”
While his transition to Nike equipment at the start of the year brought its own challenges, it would appear that the ongoing legal battle he has with his former management company has influenced his play more than he could have imagined.
McIlroy acknowledged that a drastic mental shift was needed.
“There’s definitely been a few things that have impacted (on my performance on the course),” McIlroy added.
“I’ve had a few different things to think about and different things that occupy your head that really shouldn’t.
“It’s something that will be sorted out hopefully sooner rather than later. That’s the way it is and comes with the territory I guess.
“I’ve got people to handle that sort of stuff for me and I only see a fraction of it, the stuff that I really want to see. But again it’s something that shouldn’t be in my mind. It’s something that I don’t really think any athlete or anyone should ever go through.
“I’ve seen more lawyers this year than I care to see in my entire life. It’s not something I ever want to go through again and I’m making sure that I won’t ever go through it again.”
McIlroy nearly missed out on this week’s event in Dubai, but squeezed in courtesy of a sixth place finish at the WGC-HSBC Championship in Shanghai. It was only his third top-10 European Tour finish this season.
His mission now is to silence his critics and on that front the Ryder Cup star said that few things serve as better motivation.
“I guess I learnt last year how to deal with the hype and this year I’ve learned to deal with criticism,” he added. “Every year for me is still a new experience.
“I feel I’ve always thrived on adversity. I think back to the times when I had the collapse at the Masters and I came back and won the US Open because I wanted to prove to myself and other people that wasn’t who I am and that’s not the way I play under pressure.
“Last year at the US PGA was the same sort of thing. I went through a little lull of three or four months and people started to question things and I like proving people wrong.
“It’s something that I have to keep doing every year and hopefully I do that again this year as well.”
Local knowledge helps Robin Roussel claim a share of the Alfred Dunhill lead
Scotland’s Scott Jamieson lies a shot behind following a 66.
Paul Casey a surprise entrant for 2021 Saudi International
Casey opted out of the inaugural event in 2019, citing concerns over the country’s human rights record.
Joy, relief as golf courses in England given green light to reopen from December 2
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the good news on Monday.
Joachim B Hansen makes up for Italian Open disappointment with Joburg victory
The Dane withdrew from the final round in Italy after his caddie tested positive for Covid-19.
Joachim B Hansen launches late fightback to win Joburg Open
Hansen trailed by three shots with nine holes to play but won by two strokes.
Matt Wallace shrugs off loss of caddie to Covid-19 to grab share of RSM Classic lead
Wilco Nienaber admits ‘it’s great to be home’ after strong first round
The South African fired an eagle, eight birdies and two bogeys in an opening eight-under-par 63.
From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast: Shane Lowry on Masters experience, playing with Tiger
Petition to exempt golf from lockdown set for Parliamentary debate next week
The document has received more than 257,000 signatures.