World number one Rory McIlroy wants to turn his enforced absence from the European Tour to his advantage with victory in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
McIlroy missed the first two events of the Final Series to prepare for his upcoming court case with a former management company, but secured a second Race to Dubai title in three years on Sunday when none of his three nearest rivals were able to win the Turkish Airlines Open.
The 25-year-old could therefore be forgiven for having something of a relaxed attitude at Jumeirah Golf Estates this week, but he insisted today that will not be the case.
“I’m very proud to have won the Race to Dubai again, the second time in three years, and not having to do anything this week I guess is an added bonus,” said McIlroy, who secured the title in 2012 by winning this event with birdies at the last five holes.
“But at the same time it would be nice to pick up two trophies on Sunday and not just one. I’m still very motivated to go out there this week and perform well.
“I still want to play really well this week and try and win this tournament, because there would be no point in me showing up if I thought that I had already won something and was just here for a good time. (It would) make it an even better time if I won.
“It would be nice to cap off the season with another win here and I feel like I’m probably a little fresher than most of the guys as well. I think there’s a few jaded minds and bodies getting off that plane from Turkey the other night. Hopefully I can use that to my advantage and put in a good performance this week.”
Despite his legal worries, McIlroy believes he has kept his game in good enough shape to justify being favourite for a fifth victory of the season, ahead of defending champion Henrik Stenson.
“The last week or so I really put my head down and focused on my golf and everything like that. So that’s been great,” he added. “I’ve actually felt like I’ve had a really good little bit of preparation coming into this event. I feel good with my game and hopefully I’ve done enough work to be ready for Thursday.”
McIlroy also found time to work on his role as tournament host for the Irish Open, announcing today that he had “used his influence” to persuade Rickie Fowler to compete in the event next year.
“I was excited to get more involved with The Irish Open with it going to one of the best golf courses in the world at Royal County Down. I might be a bit biased in that, seeing as it is close to home,” the Northern Irishman added.
“I’m glad that Rickie Fowler has agreed to come over and play so that’s hopefully just the start of a few names coming on board.
“Rickie has become a very good friend of mine over the past few years. We actually played each other in the Walker Cup at Royal County Down in 2007, so it will be nice to sort of rekindle that battle in a way. We’ve had a few good battles this year in a couple of the majors and at the Ryder Cup, as well.”
Fowler finished second and third behind McIlroy at the Open and US PGA Championship respectively, while McIlroy won their singles clash at Gleneagles 5&4.