McIlroy eyes HK Open success

2011-11-29 12:43
Rory McIlroy (AP)

Hong Kong - World number two Rory McIlroy said on Tuesday he had flown into Hong Kong determined to capture a title he has long desired and thereby crown a tumultuous past 12 months.

"It would be great to finish the season off well with win - it is a tournament I have wanted to win for the past number of years," the 22-year-old said.

"Hong Kong is a tournament that is one of the first on my schedule every year. I absolutely love the place and I loved it from the first moment I got here in 2005," McIlroy added.

Since last visiting the southern Chinese city in 2010 McIlroy has experienced a year which saw both a final-round blowout at the US Masters in April and an almost faultless four rounds at the US Open in June to win by eight stokes.

"It's been an interesting year for me to say the least," the Northern Irish star said. "There have been a few changes on the golf course and off the golf course and I have enjoyed every minute of it."

A well-publicised split with longtime manager Andrew "Chubby" Chandler and his continuing romance with world number one tennis player Caroline Wozniacki have ensured that McIlroy has never strayed far from the headlines.

"From having a great chance at the start of the year at Augusta (US Masters) and not quite getting it done there, I learned a lot about myself and about what I actually needed to do to become a Major champion and I feel I put a lot of that into practice at the US Open," McIlroy said.

"Things have happened but I wouldn't have it any other way," he added.

The Northern Irishman has twice finished second at the UBS Hong Kong Open - in 2008 and 2009 - while last year he was in contention right up until the halfway point in the final round before fading to finish sixth, four strokes behind eventual winner Ian Poulter.

McIlroy flew into Hong Kong late on Monday night after a whirlwind few days which saw him partner Graeme McDowell into joint-fourth place behind the United States at the World Cup, in Hainan, China.

He then spent Monday in Yokohama playing a special earthquake/tsunami relief charity event alongside Japan's Ryo Ishikawa.

McIlroy has an added incentive in that he has to secure victory in Hong Kong if he is to have any chance of overhauling England's world number one Luke Donald in this season's European Order of Merit race.

The Hong Kong Open is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours and serves as the penultimate event on the European calendar.

Donald is more than one million euros clear of McIlroy and ahead also of Germany's Martin Kaymer but neither Donald not Kaymer are playing in Hong Kong this week, gifting their rival the chance to rein them in.

McIlroy would also have to claim victory in the season-ending Dubai World Championship, and he admitted it would take something "really special" to achieve the Order of Merit crown.

Also competing in the Hong Kong Open - which starts on Thursday - is defending champion Poulter, world number 16 Justin Rose, and South Korea's Y.E. Yang, who won the US PGA Championship in 2009, making him the first Asian player to claim one of the sport's four Majors.

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