McIlroy seeking sharper showing in Dubai


Rory McIlroy will look to defend his Dubai Desert Classic title this week and is keen to put in a sharper performance having missed out on victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship last month.

The world number two was triumphant at Emirates Golf Club in 2015, beating Alexander Noren by three strokes.

McIlroy fell narrowly short in his first tournament of 2016, left to settle for tied third in Abu Dhabi as he finished two strokes behind winner Rickie Fowler.

And the four-time major winner - who has been grouped alongside world number six Henrik Stenson and 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen - believes he has room for improvement as he seeks a 13th European Tour title.

McIlroy told the European Tour's official website: "It's always nice to be back in Dubai, and I guess the last couple of times I've played here I've done pretty well, so I'm sort of going for three in a row in Dubai with winning here last year and then winning the DP World Tour Championship at the end of last season.

"So it seems to bring out my best golf. I think this is my 10th year here - I played twice as an amateur. So I've got a lot of great memories and I get a lot of support here.

"There are a couple of little things that I took from Abu Dhabi and worked on last week.

"So hopefully you'll see my game just a little bit sharper, and I'll be trying to win again here, win for the third time to join Ernie [Els] as the only people to win three times."

Stenson was level with McIlroy on 14 under in Abu Dhabi, but missed last week's Commercial Bank Qatar Masters to rest a knee he had surgery on late last year.

The Swede's performance in Abu Dhabi and his runner-up finish at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in December have rightly given Stenson plenty of confidence he can reclaim the title he clinched back in 2007.

He said: "The course is in good shape. The putting green was excellent. I expect to have a good championship on a great golf course.

"The previous two times I missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, which is never good fun, so I was very pleased with the week, both on the results side and how I played.

"I'm happy with the way things were going early doors and hopefully I can bring that into this week, too."