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Golf: High-flying McIlroy writes season goals on boarding pass

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy with fellow stars Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson ahead of the 10th Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Rory McIlroy with Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson ahead of the 10th Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

January 14, 2015: World No. 1 Rory McIlroy is ready to go one better than his three runner-up finishes at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship this week, having completed the annual ritual of recording his goals for the season on the back of a boarding pass en route to the UAE.

 

As he gears up for his first start of 2015, the Northern Irishman admitted to once again jotting down his aims for the year while travelling for pre-season practice in Dubai, with the piece of paper in question set to reside in his wallet for the next 12 months.

 

The four-time Major champion didn’t divulge what was on the list, but did admit to never having achieved everything he had set out to at the start of any prior season.

 

“Every year I fly here and I do a week or 10 days of preparation in Dubai before this tournament and I write my goals down on the back of my boarding pass, put it in my wallet and memorise them. Then I don’t look at them until the end of the year,” said the 25-year-old.

 

“So in my back pocket, in my wallet, is a boarding pass with my goals for this year. I don’t really want to share them with anyone else, as they are just my little goals. I’ll try and achieve those and take that boarding pass out at the end of the year and see how well I’ve done.”

 

McIlroy said he had spent time revisiting some of last year’s successes – including back-to-back Major wins at The Open Championship and PGA Championship – and that the exercise had helped set his mind on 2015.

 

“Over the Christmas period I had my first chance to really look back and reflect on the year and even watch a few of the highlights of some of the tournaments I won, so it was nice to reflect, but I feel 2014 has really set me up for another great year,” McIlroy said.

 

“I feel like I’m coming into this year with a nice little bit of momentum and my game is feeling good. It was nice to have that little break, but it’s time to look forward now towards this season and try to accomplish the goals I set for myself at the start of this year.”

 

The world’s top player also admitted that he’s confident of another good performance at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where penalty shots have denied him victory on two occasions.

 

“I know they have made a few changes, but it’s a golf course I’ve always felt comfortable on, one that has suited me and I’ve played well here in the past. I think this is my eighth year in a row starting the season off here, so I’m pretty familiar with the place and looking forward to another strong start to the season.”

 

Three other members of the world’s top 10 – No. 2 Henrik Stenson, No. 6 Justin Rose and No. 10 Rickie Fowler – will be three of McIlroy’s main rivals in the 10th edition of the Abu Dhabi event.

 

Pablo Larrazábal will also be among those hoping to once again deny McIlroy a maiden title in Abu Dhabi, as the Spaniard returns to defend his third European Tour title. The 31-year-old fought off the title advances of a high-quality field last January, finishing a stroke ahead of McIlroy and Phil Mickelson.

 

“It was a tough final day last year, as there was a little wind out there and I remember making a couple of birdies on the front nine to put myself in with a good chance,” said Larrazábal, who also won the BMW International Open in 2011, three years after a maiden title at the Alstom Open de France.

 

“Obviously playing alongside Rory and Miguel [Angel Jiménez] helped me. I knew that if Rory was playing well he’s going to have a chance to win a golf tournament, so to be playing with him I knew I had a chance. I made a great up-and-down on 12 and a birdie on 13 which gave me a chance to win, and that’s what I did.”

 

As well as repeating his desert heroics, Larrazábal is also keen to find the kind of consistency that will propel him into the world’s top 50 and contend in the game’s biggest championships.

 

“I really want to be in the top 50 in the world, I want to play in the World Golf Championships and I want to play in the Majors,” he said. “You never know when or how many chances you’re going to have to win golf tournaments. The only thing I know is that I’m going to try my best to prepare myself to fight for those and if I take one or two, it will be another great season.”
Source: The European Tour (www.europeantour.com); Editing by SportAsia

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