McIlroy hoping to hit the ground running

Published date24 January 2023
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
For the world number one, the start of his new year of golf comes as the headline act in the Hero Dubai Desert Classic starting on Thursday as he bids to hit the ground running in what promises to be a big year for the Northern Irishman

Nothing new in that. If the truth be known, every year since he turned professional has been a big year. However, it seems that McIlroy - given his performances of last year, which saw him finish number one on both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, even in the absence of another Major on his CV - is in as good a place as he has ever been when doing what he does best inside the ropes with tournament titles on the line.

McIlroy, a two-time winner of the Desert Classic, firstly in 2009 and again in 2015, is back on familiar ground in kick-starting his year's work with this week's introduction to competition followed by a return to the PGA Tour where the upgraded Phoenix Open and the Genesis Invitational are pencilled into his schedule next month.

Intriguingly, McIlroy's winter break - he hasn't played since the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai at the tail-end of November - has seen his lead atop the world rankings narrow considerably. Back then, McIlroy held more than a two-point cushion over Jon Rahm with the Spaniard ranked fifth at that time.


McIlroy's inactivity combined with Rahm's red-hot form has now seen that gap cut to 0.22 with the possibility of a further repositioning this week depending on how McIlroy fares in Dubai and Rahm in California.

On becoming the first player to secure the PGA Tour and DP World in the same year, McIlroy observed at the time: "I think one of the things I'm really proud of over the last few years is I don't feel I have to rely on one aspect of my game. If my driving isn't there, then my putter bails me out. If my putter isn't there, my iron play bails me out.

"I feel like when you get to this level, it's like, 'okay, how can you make those incremental improvements to get better', and I think my goal has been to just become a more complete golfer and I feel like I'm on the journey to doing that. Definitely, I'm as complete a golfer as I feel like I've ever been, and hopefully I can continue on that path."

As complete a golfer as McIlroy seemed through 2022, there's no doubt Rahm has been the most complete golfer of recent months and the developing...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT