Published: Fri, January 26, 2018
Sport | By Stuart Potter

Rory McIlroy's expectations on the rise ahead of Dubai tournament

Rory McIlroy's expectations on the rise ahead of Dubai tournament

The Masters starts April 5-8.

The former world number one says he's ahead of schedule after an impressive opening round at the Omega Dubai Desert Classix.

He'd fallen so low down the European pecking order by past year, he needed a fourth-place finish in the Andalucia Valderrama Masters to keep his card. It becomes a production. I've won here twice.

"That's nice", said McIlroy.

Asked if he'd been in a similar position before in his career, Lawrie didn't even need to think before replying: "I was first reserve for the European Open in 1992 and sat about the putting green at Sunningdale all day and never got in".

"Try to put myself in winning situations like I did last week and try to cope with them the best way possible and give myself chances at winning tournaments".

"Right now my focus is on the Dubai Desert Classic and trying to win here for the third time".

Rory McIlroy continued his strong start to the new golf season with a seven under par first round at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

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"Obviously, really happy with how everything went last week. I feel like I left a few out there but the end of the day, 65, you're not going to complain about that", added McIlroy, who has five top-10s here apart from the two wins.

"That helped me a lot".

Lawrie, a two-time Qatar Masters victor, is determined to win back his European Tour card this season and has been encouraged by seeing some positive signs since starting to work with Robert Rock, who combines playing on the European Tour with some coaching.

"Abu Dhabi was above expectations for me to be honest".

In McIlroy's absence, Ryder Cup team-mate Sergio Garcia lifted the title 12 months ago and went on to claim his first major title in the Masters, just as 2016 champion Danny Willett did a year earlier. I guess that has changed the way I view this week a little bit. The Big Easy, however, would have been left frustrated after he picked up five birdies in a row around the turn to get to four-under, before he dropped two shots in his last five holes to fall back down the leaderboard.

Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, South African duo Darren Fichardt and Haydn Porteous, Irishman Paul Dunne and China's Li Haotong were six under, a shot clear of a group containing defending champion Sergio Garcia and Andrew Dodt, the best-placed Australian.

Another victor from last week in the field is England's Tommy Fleetwood, who successfully defended his title in Abu Dhabi.

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