The double Major winner was asked to putt on a six-foot long section of artificial putting surface under the bright lights of the world’s largest mall to open a new Nike store yesterday.
Once that was completed McIlroy, who has spent the past week practicing at the Els Club, did an informal question and answers session before going off to share dinner with fiancee Caroline Wozniacki and her parents.
McIlroy will tee up today among 21 former Dubai Desert Classic winners, including 1989 winner and fellow Irishman Eamon Darcy, in an 18-hole €440,000 former champions challenge.
Among those will be world number one Tiger Woods, winner in Dubai in 2006 and 2008, who McIlroy is now looking forward to going head-to-head with this year.
The Co Down man would like to recreate the famous 1977 British Open ‘duel in the sun’ when Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson fought for glory on a sun-baked Turnberry course. Watson went on to win the second of his five British Open titles that day in what is golf’s oldest major event.
“A duel in the sun type battle coming down the stretch on a Sunday afternoon with Tiger would really excite me,” said McIlroy.
“I grew up dreaming of a scenario like that, taking on Tiger in that manner, but then taking him down the stretch in any tournament would be great.
“The fact is it just hasn’t happened yet. We sort of have been in contention a few times but haven’t really had a battle down the stretch.
“Of course, you always want to pit yourself against the best and Tiger has been the best in this game for 15 to 20 years.”
McIlroy this week will go into an event with four wedges in his bag and his manager Sean O’Flaherty has revealed McIlroy has replaced his 3-iron so that he will now carry a 47-degree wedge, a 52-degree wedge, a 54-degree wedge and a 59-degree wedge.
McIlroy also got his first look at this week’s Desert Classic host venue, the Emirates Golf Club, playing 18 holes yesterday and in what will be the first of six 18-holers that includes today’s Former Champions Challenge, tomorrow’s Pro-Am and four rounds of the event.