Rory McIlroy continues 2018 resurgence with finesse at Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 20: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates after chipping in for birdie on the 17th hole during round three of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on January 20, 2018 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images) Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy continues 2018 resurgence with finesse at Abu Dhabi

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Rory McIlroy continues 2018 resurgence with finesse at Abu Dhabi

 

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Rory McIlroy has added another element to his game and it could help him add to his collection of four major championships.

Finesse.

It was evident from the way McIlroy played the par-5 final hole in the third round of the $3 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. The former World No. 1 had 230 yards to the pin. He pulled 2-iron. With the wind helping off the left, McIlroy hit a high left-to-right cut that landed 30 feet past the flag. He two putted for birdie and a 65 to reach 16 under par, one shot behind joint leaders Thomas Pieters and Ross Fisher.

It’s the type of shot we could see more from McIlroy as he tries to add variety to his game.

“It’s something I’ve been working on, trying to not be so one-dimensional,” McIlroy said. “In the off season, I worked quite a bit on TrackMan trying to be able to hit different clubs different distances. Last year I felt like I had a lot of in between clubs a lot of times, but it was more just me not being comfortable taking something off a club or trying to hit one a little bit harder. I feel like I’ve played around with it a little bit, and the results are showing.

McIlroy is three days into his first event since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last October. He arrived in Abu Dhabi unsure how he would perform, but he’s got better each day with scores of 69, 66 and 65.

McIlroy has four seconds in Abu Dhabi. A win this week would give him his first victory since the 2016 Tour Championship. It would also make a statement that he’s truly back after his injury plagued 2017 season.

“I’m not here to make a statement,” he said. “I’m here to win golf tournaments, and people can think what they want. I know the work I’ve put in and know I’m as prepared as I ever have been. Not just this year but for many years ahead.

“I’m rejuvenated and refocused a little bit and I know what I want to do. Over the past three days I’ve shown my intent.”

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