McIlroy has remained in the Middle East since finishing fifth in the final event of the 2013 Race to Dubai season.
Joining him in Dubai are long-time coach Michael Bannon, caddie JP Fitzgerald and girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki.The current world No 6 is no stranger to the Els Club and its superb practice facilities and he has been spending this past week working on his game before boarding a weekend flight to Sydney for next Thursday’s start of the Australian Open at the Royal Sydney Club.
However, McIlroy didn’t count on encountering Tatana Kucharova, who was crowned Miss World in 2006, and a host of models participating in the final of the Beauty and Golf Tour 2013, a series of global events designed to promote golf and tourism.
Wozniacki could not be enticed inside the clubhouse for a closer look, and she wasn’t about to let her beau be distracted either.
“No, I’ve got to make sure Rory works on his game,” she was heard explaining.
And while McIlroy was setting a fine example in Dubai, Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn has called on Europe’s leading PGA Tour-based players to do likewise for younger European players following criticism of the recently completed Final Series.
Bjorn, who was speaking after posting a six-under-par 66 to share the lead on the opening day of the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne, was responding to European Tour chief executive George O’Grady’s admission that they had “underestimated the amount of golf” the top players had played throughout 2013.
“In talking to them I use Seve [Ballesteros] and Arnold Palmer as an example as they just donated that little bit extra that left something for somebody else,” said Bjorn.
“But it’s difficult when you sit with Justin Rose and Ian Poulter and try to explain this to them. They are the players younger golfers look to and they must set the example and offer that 1% for those following.”
Meanwhile, Ireland’s Graeme McDowell found himself trailing six shots behind Bjorn and American Kevin Streelman on the first day of competition Down Under.
McDowell was one under par playing the last but put his drive into bushes. He then clipped a branch with his second shot and then three-putted for a round of a one-over par 72.
Ireland team-mate Shane Lowry also struggled to a 74.