ABU DHABI // Rory McIlroy admits he faces a tall order trying to overtake Martin Kaymer from the handicap of a five-shot deficit this afternoon, but the young Northern Irishman promised that if he does not deliver today he will soon.
McIlroy, 21, was still a teenager when he emerged as the most exciting prospect since Tiger Woods when he triumphed in the Dubai Desert Classic two years ago.
More titles would quickly follow, we believed, but there has been only one since - a US PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow last May.
McIlroy still has hope of completing an unlikely UAE double by chasing down the defending champion Martin Kaymer over the last 18 holes of the Abu Dhabi Championship.
"We've got the four major champions of last year here and the world No 1, so it would be great to beat them all here," he said. "Also it feels like a long time since my last one on the European Tour.
"But I know one thing - the way my game is going, if it doesn't happen for me this week, it will happen soon because it definitely feels like I'm on the right track."
McIlroy claims to have improved his attitude in recent weeks. "There were certain points last year when I didn't feel I gave it 100 per cent," he said. "And as a professional sportsman you can't do that."
Asked to elaborate, McIlroy said he found it hard to get himself motivated on the final days of tournaments if he knew he could not win them. "So I've decided to give it my all and work harder from now on," he said. "I'm going to try to set myself a goal each time I play and try as hard as possible to achieve it."
He reported that he has achieved his goal this week on his return to a venue which almost brought him success last year.
"I shot 67 on the final day but it wasn't good enough," he reflected. He is likely to need at least a repeat of his brilliant 65 of yesterday to put any kind of pressure on a swaggering Kaymer.
He certainly lifted his spirits with a blistering finish to his third round. After hitting the sweetest of drives down the 17th to give him a wedge in for birdie, he then found the 18th fairway for the first time in three attempts to give him the chance of getting up that long, closing hole in two.
McIlroy drilled his approach to about 20 feet to bring about the biggest cheer of the day from the corporate boxes on his left and then turned that into an almighty roar by sinking the ensuing putt.
"I drove it really well today and made a reasonable number of putts," he concluded. "That's a huge positive for me going into the rest of the season."