McIlroy stays upbeat

Rory McIlroy is convinced missing out on victory in the European Masters will stand him in good stead.

Golf - Omega European Masters - Crans-sur-Sierre, Crans Montana, Switzerland - 7/9/08
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy plays out of a bunker on the seventeenth hole during the final round
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Andrew Boyers
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Rory McIlroy, the Northern Ireland teenager who has become one of the UAE's adopted sons, is convinced the heartbreaking experience he endured on Sunday will stand him in good stead as he pursues his professional career. McIlroy, 19, spoke about the pain of missing a five-foot putt on the final hole of the European Masters in Switzerland which would have secured a maiden victory on the European tour.

He lost the ensuing play-off at the second extra hole to France's Jean-Francois Luquin. "Sometimes you have to learn how to lose before you can win," he said. "It was a tough loss to take because I had led the tournament from start to finish and I thought I played some good golf coming down the home stretch. "I didn't rush my shots like some people have suggested." He was one putt away from becoming the third youngest winner of a European tour event, but is convinced his big day will not be long in coming.

"Winning my first tournament by the end of the year would be nice," he said. "I know I had a glorious opportunity to win and let it slip through my fingers. A sand iron taking a big bounce and going a couple of yards too far and rolling off the green made all the difference. "Even then I thought I would still win. My chip from the edge of the green was a good one. "It almost went in and it left me a straight putt of five feet which I was convinced I would make. I just pulled it. That happens in golf."

McIlroy is hoping to have bought a house in Dubai, the base of his sponsors Jumeirah Hotels, by the time the Race to Dubai reaches its conclusion at Greg Norman's Earth Course on Jumeirah Golf Estates in November next year. "Dubai has the perfect climate for practising in the winter and it is perfectly situated from a professional golfer's viewpoint," he said. "I'm really looking forward to playing on the Earth Course next year, providing I qualify.

"I need to be in the top 60 and I'm ranked 45 at the moment. I have climbed 150 places in the rankings this year and I feel I am playing well enough to go even higher, so I am hopeful of being a contender when Race to Dubai takes place next year." McIlroy has enjoyed the Jumeirah sponsorship since turning professional a year ago and is pleased with how things have worked. "Their backing has helped me to settle in as a professional," said McIlroy who possessed a remarkable handicap of plus six when he took the plunge into the paid ranks of the sport.

"Comparatively speaking I have found it easier than most switching codes from amateur to professional. "Justin Rose for instance missed 21 cuts in a row before making his mark. I feel I have already made my mark in my first season as a pro and I'm improving all the time." @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae