x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Trophies are Rory McIlroy's motivation for success in Dubai

The world number one hopes to add a further two titles to his collection come Sunday after what has "been a great year".

Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy is already looking ahead to 2013 where he hopes to add to his haul of major championships. Jeff Topping / The National
Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy is already looking ahead to 2013 where he hopes to add to his haul of major championships. Jeff Topping / The National

DUBAI // Rory McIlroy's recently acquired selfish streak seems to have surfaced at Jumeirah Golf Estates this week.

The Northern Irishman, having secured the Race to Dubai title with two events to spare, could have been forgiven for taking it easy around the Earth Course, even enjoying his imminent anointment.

Yet, such is the young star's determination to hoover up everything put before him, the DP World Tour Championship represents much more than the casual winding down of the European Tour season.

"I want to pick up two trophies at the end of the week," McIlroy told a crammed news conference yesterday.

"That's the big thing. It's been a phenomenal year, but I've still got one more tournament and I want to finish the season strong.

"Obviously you have to stay here right until the end, so I might as well make it matter."

The cabinet that stores his trinkets could be creaking come the conclusion of play on Sunday.

A bizarrely successful season has already yielded four victories - one of which a major championship, in record-breaking fashion - money list titles on both the European Tour and US PGA Tour, the PGA of America's Player of the Year and the Vardon Trophy, as well as the world No 1 spot.

Despite that, however, the 23 year old rates his 2012 as merely "a great year".

"I'd give it an eight out of 10," he said, citing the US PGA Championship crown as his finest achievement.

"There's obviously that little stretch [from May, missing four cuts in five events] and if I played well there, the grade would be even higher. But it's still been a great year."

McIlroy's ascension to golf's summit has increased commitments away from the fairway, with next season's reduced schedule reflecting that.

The decision to cut tournaments at the end of the campaign will not jeopardise his return to February's Dubai Desert Classic - only two weeks after opening his account, again, at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

"Sometimes you've got to be a little bit selfish and do what's right for you," McIlroy said.

"Obviously as world No 1 you still have to give time to the people you need to, but you've got to look after yourself and make sure you do what's right for your game.

"But of course, you can never be complacent. You can never just think of it as coming easy to you. You still have to work hard and still have to dedicate yourself each and every day to trying to become a better player."

Should McIlroy triumph this week he will overtake Tiger Woods for earnings in a single season.

The Holywood-born golfer has collected a movie star's bounty, with already US$9.6 million (Dh35.2m) added to his burgeoning bank balance.

McIlroy, though, insists landing a large portion of the $8m prize fund on offer in Dubai does not occupy his thoughts, insisting: "It's great I never really have to worry about it. I can just concentrate on my golf and try to win tournaments."

The two-time major winner acknowledged his early gain of the Race to Dubai provides this tournament with a sense of an anticlimax, although George O'Grady, the European Tour's chief executive, dismissed the inconvenience when presenting McIlroy a special money clip in honour of his accomplishment.

"This is basically for playing brilliantly all year and conducting himself in a manner that anyone would be proud to say 'he's our champion'," O'Grady said.

Yet McIlroy's mind is already looking forward.

When he was asked what serves as his motivation for 2013, the new-found selfish streak resurfaces.

"Winning. Trying to be the best player I can be," he said. "The real goal for me is trying to win as many tournaments and as many majors as possible.

"I got one in 2011 and backed it up this year with another. I would love to say 2013 will be similar; that's the benchmark for me.

"I've always said I'm never going to put a number on it. I just want to get my third, and when I get my third I want to try and get my fourth. Obviously I'm halfway to the grand slam, so that's probably the next obvious goal for me."

 

jmcauley@thenational.ae

 

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