By Alan Ewens
|Luke and Rory covet Dubai trophy.|
“Winning The Race to Dubai would obviously rank second after winning my first major,” said McIlroy, the reigning US Open Champion.
“I’ve got to win and Luke has to finish outside the top nine or ten—but I’m not really counting on him doing that because he’s only finished outside the top ten about twice this year!
“I need to play very well to beat a top class field—the top four players in the world and the top 60 in Europe are here, so it’s going to be a very tough ask.”
Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, the Dubai World Championship sees many of the greatest players on earth do battle for a share of $7.5 million in prize-money and a large slice of the additional $7.5 million Bonus Pool.
Awaiting the results of a blood test as a result of a virus, McIlroy arrived in Dubai fresh from victory at the UBS Hong Kong Open and is upbeat about being back in the UAE.
“I love it here, I really do,” said the popular Northern Irishman, seen by many as the natural heir to Tiger Wood’s crown. “This is a part of the world where I've done well before and it's obviously somewhere I’ve grown to know and love over the past few years.”
Despite all eyes being on the battle between the World Number One and Two, the field is packed with talent, including 2010 Dubai World Champion and Race to Dubai winner Lee Westwood.
“I think anybody who enjoys golf likes to see the season-ending event go down to the wire,” said Westwood. “You don’t want a foregone conclusion.
“It’s nice to see two people battling it out where somebody could have a putt to win both the Money List and the tournament. Rory’s obviously more experienced now and he did well to win last week and give himself a chance going into this event. But I think the ball is still in Luke’s court.”
(Photo: Alan Ewens, Dubai World Championship)