x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

McIlroy to swing by capital on way to Dubai

The Desert Classic winner confirms his entry for the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship thus ensuring five of the world's top 10 will take part.

ABU DHABI // Rory McIlroy's announcement yesterday that he will return to Abu Dhabi next month on the way to defending his Dubai Desert Classic title means that five of the world's top 10 will be doing battle in the Abu Dhabi Championship from January 21 to 24. Northern Ireland's McIlroy, who won the Dubai Desert Classic in February, and had a strong year as he led the Race to Dubai before being denied on the final leg by Lee Westwood's Dubai World Championship victory, is confident of his chances of holding two UAE titles at the same time.

"This will be my third outing in Abu Dhabi and I am well aware how important a decent showing here can be," said McIlroy who finished fifth to England's Paul Casey in January. "I shot a number of good rounds on the National Course which gave me the confidence to clinch my maiden European Tour victory in Dubai two weeks later." McIlroy, 20, joins fourth-ranked Westwood, Casey (sixth) Henrik Stenson (seventh) and Sergio Garcia (eighth) as top 10 attractions in the capital. "The field in Abu Dhabi is always strong, but I've proved that I can hold my own against the best," he added.

"I've improved each year at this event and know that I've got what it takes on the day. It would be a great start to my season if I can come away with the right result." Adam Scott recorded his first tournament victory in 19 months as he won the Australian Open by five shots yesterday. It was also the first professional title on home soil for Australian Scott, who has slipped from third to No 54 in the rankings after a poor year on the PGA Tour where he missed 10 cuts in 19 events. He won with a score of 15 under par from compatriot Stuart Appleby.

"It is very special to win here, it has taken me a while," he said. "I have worked really hard and I have been saying it all year, even though I have been paying terribly but it pays off, you have to stick with it." @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae