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McIlroy Targets Big Year As He Gets Under Way At Dubai Invitational


Reigning Race to Dubai champion Rory McIlroy is as ambitious as ever as he returns to the Emirate to start his 18th full DP World Tour season at the new Dubai Invitational, the first event on The International Swing. 

Since turning professional in 2007, the World Number Two has become one of the greatest players of his generation, with four Major Championships, 41 career titles and five Ryder Cup victories.

Last year the 34-year-old won two Rolex Series titles as he went on to claim the European Number One crown for a fifth time.

After seven top tens in his last eight starts at Majors, the Northern Irishman is hoping he can convert his consistent performances into winning another of the “big ones”, but first he is aiming to start 2024 on a high note this week when he tees it up at Dubai Creek Resort.

His Ryder Cup teammate and fellow Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood also gets the new year up and running at the inaugural Dubai Invitational, which sees 60 professional players competing in a 72-hole strokeplay tournament, which is played concurrently with a three-day team Pro-Am (Thurs-Sat), with Sunday featuring professionals only.

Dubai resident Fleetwood is hoping he can discover “that missing piece” in 2024, after closing out last season with a runner-up finish at the DP World Tour Championship. 

Since the Genesis Scottish Open last summer, the Englishman, whose last title came at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in 2022, has recorded six top tens in his last ten starts worldwide and missed just one cut.

During that period, the World Number 15 claimed the winning point that saw Team Europe regain the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome last September.

Winning Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald also tees it up this week, as he looks forward to his second stint at the helm of Team Europe in New York in 2025, while another of the stars of his victorious team, Nicolai Højgaard, is in action for the first time since rounding out a memorable 2023 season with victory in Dubai at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

Rory McIlroy: “I’m excited for the year. This is my 18th full season on tour, which is mad to think about. But I’m as excited as I was for the first one. I think every new year – new year, new opportunities, new goals. 

“My consistency’s really been there over the last couple of years, without winning one of the big ones (the Majors), and I think that’s the final piece of the puzzle for me. 

“I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks. This is a different way to start the season than previous ones.

Obviously, we played Abu Dhabi and then Dubai. Abu Dhabi is now at the end of the year, which is exciting because it’s another big tournament at the end of the season that could decide the season-long race.

“I have a lot of friends in Dubai and I know a lot of the amateurs coming to play. I thought it would be a nice, gentle way to start the season.

I just thought it was a good opportunity to get on the golf course, get a card in my hand but in a more relaxed setting, so I’m excited for that for the week.”