McIlroy ready to take final step

Rory McIlroy admits he is becoming increasingly frustrated by his inability to land a second professional title as he prepares for the defence of his maiden triumph at this week's Dubai Desert Classic.

The 20-year-old has finished in the top seven in seven of his last eight events, with two runner-up finishes to his name following a career-best finish at a Major - third place at the US PGA Championship in August.

However, while he is happy with his consistency, the Irish golfer is annoyed not to have converted any of his near misses into victories.

"If you are having top 10s you've always got the chance to win," said McIlroy, who missed last week's event in Qatar after opening his season with a third place in Abu Dhabi.

"It's great having top fives, but if you don't have a win in there, it's not that good. That's what I'm trying to get, that's the level that I'm trying to get to."

Last year at Emirates Golf Club a 19-year-old McIlroy held off Justin Rose to claim a wire-to-wire victory, despite a nervous final round, to finally land his first title 16 months after joining the professional ranks.

A year later he returns as the world number nine with Dubai representing his last event before heading off to America after taking up a US PGA Tour card.

"To gain experience every year in the four Majors and everything else, by the time I am 24 or 25 I will have played in 20 or 25 Majors so hopefully by then I should know how to finish them off," he said.

"Obviously that's the ultimate goal - to try and win major championships and try to become the best player I can be.

"I know I have to work hard to keep the recent run going, but if I can do that, hopefully I can keep getting better and try and achieve what I want in the game, which is ultimately to be the best player in the world."

McIlroy hopes the home comforts of Dubai and familiarity of the Emirates Golf Club Course will again help push him back over the winning line.

However he has admitted the new regulations regarding grooves, which limit the amount of spin players can exert, will affect the way he tackles the Majlis course - especially the driveable par fours.

"I've gained a lot from those experiences since the win last year and I've put myself in great positions to win that I haven't quite finished off," he added after signing a new three-year contract with his principle sponsor, the Dubai-based Jumeirah group.

"But I've learnt from those experiences and I feel as if I'm a more rounded player. I feel as if when I get myself into those positions now I am more comfortable in final rounds and final groups."

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