After two straight runner-ups, McIlroy seeks breakthrough win in Hong Kong

rory mcilroy
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The UBS Hong Kong Open's welcome ceremonies on Tuesday featured Rory McIlroy, a colorful Chinese dragon and, in the background, an equally colorful John Daly.
By
Associated Press

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Two-time UBS Hong Kong Open runner-up Rory McIlroy is hoping a new level of professional contentment can help him end his 2010 European Tour drought at the Fanling course this weekend.

McIlroy lost out to Frenchman Gregory Bourdy in this tournament last year, 12 months after losing a playoff to Taiwan’s Lin Wen-tang, leaving the Northern Irishman still seeking victory at a tournament he rates among his favorites on the European Tour.

But after a year that has seen him compete on the PGA Tour -- where he won the Quail Hollow Championship -- and play a role in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory over the United States, the 21-year-old believes he has developed as a player over the past 12 months.

“If you had asked me this time last year where I would have wanted to be, I would have said I would like to have had a few more wins,” McIlroy said Tuesday.

“I’ve played well enough to have a couple more wins but that’s the way golf goes sometimes. Hopefully I’ll be able to get my first European Tour win this year this week in Hong Kong.”

McIlroy’s contentment with his game were reflected in his decision to commit himself to the European Tour next year, turning down overtures to play on the PGA Tour more fully after a taste of America in 2010.

With world No.1 Lee Westwood also eschewing the opportunity to take up PGA Tour membership, and PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer also yet to make plans to play in the United States, McIlroy’s declaration garnered swathes of coverage, with some seeing it as a snub.

“I can see how it can create a bit of a stir, but you have to make yourself happy and look after N. 1 and staying at home and spending a bit more time in Europe will make me happier,” McIlroy said.

“I found out that the places you like to go to have a lot to do with it. Places that you play that make you feel happy. There’s no point playing a golf tournament somewhere you don’t want to be at.”

One place where he does feel comfortable is Hong Kong, notwithstanding the disappointment of consecutive runner-up positions.

“I’m trying to really pick and choose my events in the places where I’m happy and I want to be there and give it a good go. This year (Hong Kong) has been one of the tournaments I have targeted to try and do well at and try and win,” he said. “Being so close, I’d just love to get my name on that trophy and on the board as you walk into Fanling.”

Among the other top contenders in Hong Kong will be U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, Y.E. Yang, Ian Poulter, plus the defending champions of the past two years, Bourdy and Lin.