DUBAI -- Having missed it last time out because of an injury, Rory McIlroy is hoping to make up for lost time when the Omega Dubai Desert Classic gets rolling over the weekend.
The Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club holds a special place in his heart with the Northern Irishman notching his first professional win on the European Tour in 2009. He later went on to clinch a second Desert Classic in 2015.
Returning from a three-month injury lay-off, McIlroy is fitter and raring to go as he guns a third Desert Classic which will equal 'The Big Easy' Ernie Els, the only three-time winner so far.
"I have a lot of good memories here at the Majlis Course, first win. Been playing here, played as an amateur in 2007 and I remember after that week, I got to world No. 1 amateur," McIlroy said on Wednesday.
"I won here twice. Dubai is a place that I've gotten to know very well. It's a place I love to come back to. I'm looking forward to getting going again. I missed it last year and I missed having a chance to win and having a chance to compete. It's always one of the highlights of the year for me to come and play here with the memories that I have. So, I'm looking forward to getting back out there on Thursday and trying to give myself another chance to win," the four-time Major winner added.
The 28-year-old first competitive event since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last October was the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where he finished an impressive tied for third.
McIlroy turned in an 18-under, four shots adrift of winner Tommy Fleetwood, with his best round being seven-under 65 in the third round.
McIlroy surprised not just everyone but himself as well with such a score on return. "Obviously really happy with how everything went last week. If someone had said to me at the start of the week, you'd shoot 18-under par your first week back on, I thought, quite a difficult golf course. The rough was up a little bit and maybe some of the greens were soft, tricky conditions on Sunday, I would have thought 18-under par would have a great chance to win.
"No complaints about last week. If anything, I could have maybe driven it a little straighter on last day and given myself some more shots from the fairways to attack some pins," he said.
Last week's showing has left McIlroy in a good space as he aims to tackle the Majlis Course.
"I did exceed expectations. I guess that has changed the way I view this week a little bit because of how I played last week. I know that my game is in good enough shape to contend and try to win. I feel like I've got a bit of a spring back in my step because of what happened last week and very confident in myself. Again, it's a golf course I know how to get around and I know how to shoot good scores on," said McIlroy.
With such a comeback, thoughts turned to Masters, the only Major missing from his trophy cabinet, but McIlroy tempered it down by saying there was still a lot to go between then and now.
"I think I've got seven events from now until the Masters, so I'm sort of taking it week-by-week at this point. Right now it's just about getting myself in a nice bit of form and playing tournaments and playing well. Right now my focus is on the Dubai Desert Classic and trying to win here for the third time," said McIlroy, who finished fourth at Augusta in 2015.
This article is written by James Jose from Khaleej Times and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.