Rory McIlroy returns to the scene of his career’s first professional win in 2009, hoping for an encore when he joins a strong star cast at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, starting at the Emirates Golf Club from February 9 to 12.
The young Irish sensation, 19 at that time, carded a final round of two under par 70 to finish at 19-under and seal a wire-to-wire victory which made him the seventh youngest winner in The European Tour’s history.
Since that landmark victory, McIlory has dramatically climbed the ladder of success, becoming the world number three and a proud owner of the US Open Trophy among his multiple wins on the international circuit.
But Dubai remains close to his heart where he will be making his seventh appearance, the most number of times he has played anywhere else. It’s here he made the cut for the first time in a European Tour event as a 17-year-old amateur in 2007, eventually finishing tied 52nd at three-under-par score of 285.
“It’s always nice to get back to a golf course where I’ve enjoyed success. Obviously, I will be looking to win the event again,” said McIlroy ahead of the $2.5 million event, promoted and organised by golf in DUBAi.
“The memories of the 2009 are still are very strong, but I feel as if I’m a more complete player now than I was in 2009,” said McIlroy who boasts five wins worldwide, including three on the European Tour and two on the PGA Tour.
“I definitely swing it better. I’m able to shape the ball both ways and, physically, I’ve gotten stronger and I feel like I’m definitely headed in the right direction,” said McIlroy, who beat American Anthony Kim in a play-off to win the 2011 Shanghai Masters and claim the $2 million winner’s purse — the richest prize in golf.
With McIlroy, who is also the global ambassador of Jumeirah Group, joining Lee Westood (world number 2) and Martin Kamer (number 4) in the field, the next month’s Omega Desert Classic will boast three of the world’s top four players in the field.
Adding spice to the event will be the presence of Fred Couples, the victorious US Presidents Cup captain who himself was the first American to win in Dubai in 1995.
Commented Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi: “Rory is a familiar face to Dubai fans, having competed in this event a number of times, both as an amateur and professional. He is an exceptionally talented young sportsman who, I believe, is destined for greatness.
“For sure, he is an inspiration to young sportsmen even from beyond his own sport. They admire him a lot and love watching him. I don’t believe in comparing sportsmen, but Rory’s youthful charm and charisma has certainly created its own marketable brand.
“With three of the world’s top four joining Fred in the field, we can expect high quality golf. I wish Rory and all other players the very best and hope they have a wonderful stay in Dubai.
‘golf in DUBAi’ is backed by Omega as the title sponsor and Dubal (Dubai Aluminium) as the sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Gulf News, Emirates NBD, Jumeirah, Mercedes-Benz and wasl while Dubai Duty Free, Carpetland and Motivate are the Patrons in golf in DUBAi’s drive to showcase the emirate’s vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.