GOLF superstar Rory McIlroy has thrown down a challenge to in-form locals Adam Scott and Jason Day, saying he's intent on crashing their party and ending his winless season with victory at this week's Australian Open.
"I'm definitely not down here for a holiday," said McIlroy on Monday after briefly reacquainting himself with the Royal Sydney course ahead of Thursday's first round.
The Northern Irishman's only previous Australian Open appearance was also at Royal Sydney back in 2006, when he tied for 59th as a 17-year-old.
Now a two-time major champion and one-time world No.1, 24-year-old McIlroy has much loftier ambitions for his eagerly-awaited return.
"The Australian Open has got a lot of history, a lot of great winners going back to some of the greats who have played the game," he said.
"So there's a lot of great champions on that trophy and it'd be great to add my name to it."
To do so, McIlroy will need to upstage one of the strongest Open fields in years, with world No.2 Scott chasing a rare Australian Triple Crown and 11th-ranked Day looking to back up his individual triumph at the World Cup of Golf on Sunday.
Scott and Day also combined to earn Australia World Cup team honours at Royal Melbourne and McIlroy was relishing the prospect of duelling with the two big local hopes on Sunday.
"I think it's brilliant that the two boys are playing this week," McIlroy said.
"There's going to be a lot of hype. It's going to be exciting and I'm happy to be here and sort of be a part of it. It's pretty cool."
McIlroy has endured a winless 2013 but recorded eight top-10 finishes, four times each in the US and Europe, including in his past two starts this month in Dubai and Shanghai.
"I've got two tournaments left. I've got here and then fly straight back to LA for Tiger's tournament, so it would be great to finish the year with a win," he said.
"Here would be great and it would be great to get myself into contention at least.
"If Adam and Jason were up there too, it would be quite an exciting weekend."
The 24-year-old world No.6 admitted he left his past two tournaments feeling deflated despite finishing fifth and sixth.
"So when you're getting to that level, or that stage, and you're disappointed walking away with pretty decent finishes from big tournaments, you know that you're on the right track," McIlroy said.
"I'm hitting the ball much better. My game's in good shape.
"All I wanted to do this year was finish the season strongly and get some momentum going into 2014 and I feel like I'm starting to do that.
"So a win would be the perfect way to end the year."
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