Rory McIlroy hits shot of the year to contend for third Dubai win

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Rory McIlroy hits shot of the year to contend for third Dubai win

Euro Tour

Rory McIlroy hits shot of the year to contend for third Dubai win

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Rory McIlroy probably thought his world had collapsed in July when he missed the cut in the Open Championship at Royal Portrush in front of his home fans. Turns out it was the kick in the butt he needed to take his game up a notch.

Make that several notches.

McIlroy is in contention to win the $8 million DP World Tour Championship, Dubai for the third time after an opening 8-under-par 64 thanks to seven birdies, an eagle and just one dropped shot. He trails Mike Lorenzo-Vera by a shot after the Frenchman returned a 63. However, McIlroy looks far and away the man to beat, especially after his approach shot to the par-5 18th.

The World No. 2 punctuated his round with a 290-yard 3-wood that finished six feet from the flag. McIlroy rolled in the eagle putt and then said: “It’s possibly the best shot I’ve hit all year. I’m looking forward to seeing it on TV later.”

McIlroy has been hitting a lot of good shots since shooting 79, 65 at Royal Portrush to miss the cut by a shot.

“Obviously after the 21st of July, or whenever the Open Championship finished, there was only a few things that were right there,” McIlroy said. “The FedEx Cup was right there and I was able to do that, and winning another World Golf Championship (the WGC-HSBC Champions) was cool. Since then I’ve achieved a few goals I set for myself.

“That was a difficult period (after the Open Championship) and I had to regroup and restart almost. But the golf I’ve played since Portrush has been some of the best I’ve ever played.

“Sometimes these experiences can be a really good thing for you, and the catalyst to being more motivated or learning. I’ve tried to learn from every sort of setback that I’ve had. I feel like I’ve done a good job with that, not just this year, but every year throughout my career.”

Portrush was such a catalyst that McIlroy feels like he’s swinging the club as well as he’s ever done.

“I’m hitting the ball where I’m looking. I feel like my swing is in as good a spot as it has been in a long time. Michael Bannon (his coach) and I have worked hard on that. Somehow this year we’ve got it back to where we like it. It’s very repeatable. It’s as good as I’ve ever swung it, but then factor in the greens, the short game and I feel like I’ve got the whole package.”

The 30-year-old returned from China to find his wife, Erica, had installed a trophy cabinet in their new home. Hopefully it has lots of space, because McIlroy is odds on to lift a third DP World Tour Championship, Dubai trophy.

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