NORTHERN Irishman Rory McIlroy says he'll be 'disappointed' if he doesn't win a third Dubai Desert Classic title this week at Emirates Golf Club.
The four-time major winner, who has climbed back to World Number Two, says his form at the course where he has already won three times gives him plenty of confidence.
“It's always nice to be back in Dubai and I guess the last couple of times I've played here, I've done pretty well, so I'm sort of going for three in a row in Dubai with winning here last year, and then with the DP World Championship just at the end of last season,” McIlroy said in his pre-tournament press conference.
“So it seems to bring out my best golf. And I've got great memories from the Emirates here, winning my first tournament, making my first cut as a pro.
“I think this is my 10th year since I started coming here and playing in the tournament, twice as an amateur. So a lot of great memories and I get a lot of support here.”
Later, McIlroy was quizzed about how he would feel if he doesn't successfully defend this week and admitted it would be disappointing.
“If I was leaving here on Sunday night and didn't win, I'd be disappointed,” he said.
“Leaving any tournament without a win is sort of disappointing, but you try to put a positive spin on it.
“I think golfers, that's what we usually do. We are disappointed for a bit and then we realise, we try to put positive spins on it, and the nice thing is there's always a next week in golf.”
McIlroy will start favourite this week with World Number Six Henrik Stenson the only other top 10 player in the field.
Stenson, also a winner at the Emirates Golf Club with a victory in 2007, has made a solid start to his 2016 with a third place finish in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago.
The 39-year-old underwent knee surgery in December but his play in Abu Dhabi suggests he is fully recovered and will be a threat this week.
McIlroy and Stenson aside, an impressive supporting cast is assembled with 2015 Race to Dubai runner-up Danny Willett, 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and dual major winner Martin Kaymer all in the field.
RORY FLYING HIGH IN DUBAI THIS WEEK:
Veteran Lee Westwood is joined by fellow 40-something Ernie Els, that duo currently the only two players to win the tournament three times.
The South African says he is confident ahead of the week having overcome the putting yips which have plagued his game in recent months, a switch to a left hand low putting style paying dividends.
“I had a really tough one last year,” Els said in the lead up to the tournament.
“I’ve had some bad years but last year was probably the worst. It was all on the greens and it was getting into my head everywhere.
“But I feel a lot more comfortable now. After the South African Open or during the South African Open, I changed to the left-hand low method, and since then I feel a lot more comfortable.
“My play hasn’t been, or my scores haven’t really shown it yet, but I feel like things are coming around.”
Six Australians will tee up this week, Marcus Fraser the only one having previously posted a top 10 finish in the tournament.
Brett Rumford, Wade Ormsby, Scott Hend and Andrew Dodt have all found the going tough at Emirates Golf Club in the past, while reigning Australian PGA champion Nathan Holman makes his first appearance at the venue.
After a disappointing European Tour debut with a missed cut in Abu Dhabi, Holman righted the ship somewhat in Qatar last week and will be looking for even better form this week.
HENRIK STENSON ON HIS SWING THOUGHTS:
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