Last updated on November 14th, 2023 at 05:18 PM
Newly crowned Race to Dubai champion Rory McIlroy has his eye on a third Rolex Series victory of the season as he ends a memorable year at the DP World Tour Championship.
The World Number Two topped the season-long points race for the fifth time in his career before arriving at Jumeirah Golf Estates, where the top 50 players in the Race to Dubai Rankings in partnership with Rolex will battle it out in the DP World Tour’s season finale.
McIlroy is proud of his accomplishments in a busy 2023 campaign which has included Rolex Series victories at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and Genesis Scottish Open, three top-ten finishes at Major Championships and victory for Team Europe at the Ryder Cup in Rome.
The Northern Irishman edged closer to eight-time winner Colin Montgomerie’s record by sealing his fifth Harry Vardon trophy with a tournament to spare, leaving him to play with relative freedom over the Earth course as he aims to match Jon Rahm by winning the DP World Tour Championship for a third time.
Rory McIlroy: “Yeah, in fairness, I probably would have liked to have done it another way but I’ve played well when I’ve came back over to the DP World Tour this year and won two Rolex Series events. Had some other really high finishes in tournaments that give a lot of points, and it’s really nice to have my name on the Harry Vardon Trophy for the fifth time and just be one behind Seve and still a few behind Monty.
“You’re talking about the greats of the European game, and to be up alongside them is really, if someone had told 18-year-old Rory when I was making my professional debut in 2007 that I would have won five Order of Merits up to this point, I wouldn’t have believed them.
“I certainly don’t take it for granted, and you know, it shows the consistency that I’ve played with over the last few years that even though I feel like I’ve had a good year, I don’t feel like I’ve had a great year, but I can still go ahead and achieve things like this.
“Yeah, probably give it a seven out of ten. Played good golf. I had the two wins. I had my best-ever Ryder Cup, which feels like a win to me, especially coming off the back of Whistling Straits.
“So I’ve been happy with the year. If I looked back on one thing, I’ll rue that miss at L.A. I had a great opportunity there to pick up another Major and I didn’t.
But I’m still not going to let that take away from the fact that it’s been another really consistent, solid year with some really good performances. I’m feeling like my game is in as good of shape as it has ever been throughout my, whatever it is, 16 -, 17-year career. I’m happy with that and try to finish this year off on a high and play well this week and reset and get ready for 2024.”
FedExCup Champion Viktor Hovland is also hoping to maintain the 2023 feel-good factor as he tees it up in his first event since helping Team Europe regain the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in September.
The biennial event came shortly after the Norwegian secured his third PGA TOUR victory of the season at the TOUR Championship to top the money list on the other side of the Atlantic for the first time.
The World Number Four has already won in the Middle East at the 2022 Dubai Desert Classic, and he is aiming for more Rolex Series glory in a part of the world where he admits he loves to tee it up.
Viktor Hovland: “It was such a highlight of my career (Ryder Cup) and it’s been really nice the last six weeks. After that, let it sink in but it’s good to be back. I love golf here. The golf courses are really good. The weather is nice. Food is good. I just really enjoy coming here.
But obviously would like to win on another course over here and I think this course suits me well so I’m looking forward to playing some good golf.
“You know, you need those breaks to recharge because it’s hopefully a long career. You can’t play every single event that’s out there but I do feel like my game is good enough to step up and play as well as I did before the break.
“It’s going to be maybe a little bit rusty but I still have the mindset and I think just this year with how much I’ve improved and the tools that I have, I feel like I can still shoot pretty nice scores not having my best stuff.
If I hit a couple of bad shots, yeah, I might make a bogey or two, but I’m not going to let that ruin the round or the tournament.
“I put so much pressure on myself to play perfect golf because I felt like I had to play perfect golf to win tournaments, but I don’t believe that I have to do that anymore.
It’s almost like, yes, there’s more expectations because I know what I’m capable of doing but at the same time, if I don’t play to that level, I’m not going to freak out, either. There’s a sense of calmness.”