Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 November 2020

World No 1 Rory McIlroy kept the turmoil in check after fruitless 2013 season

Coming off the worst season of his young career, Rory McIlroy won two majors in 2014 and was so dominant on the European Tour, he secured the season-long Race to Dubai title before this week’s season finale, writes Steve Elling.
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland addresses a news conference ahead of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 18, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Warren Little/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland addresses a news conference ahead of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 18, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Warren Little/Getty Images

DUBAI // The backbeat was the same, yet the lyrics could not have been more different.

Coming off the worst season of his young career, Rory McIlroy won two majors in 2014 and was so dominant on the European Tour, he secured the season-long Race to Dubai title before this week’s season finale, the DP World Championship, had begun.

Read more: DP World Tour Championship offers curtain call for Race to Dubai winner Rory McIlroy

With four emphatic victories this year against the game’s deepest fields, he climbed back to No 1 in the world, turning heads as he turned around his game.

Beyond the scores, though, there was plenty in common with his disappointing 2013 season.

The distractions just kept on coming, via a big pile of legal bills, an emotionally charged relationship break-up or merely dodging the prying eyes of an increasingly fascinated public.

In twisted fashion, the tumult from a mostly fruitless 2013 paved the way for his career year this season.

At some point, when living in a fishbowl, there comes a time to either paddle or sink. The white noise this year barely slowed him.

Practice makes perfect, he said. “I’ve got used to it,” McIlroy said Tuesday.

“I’m better at compartmentalising between stuff that’s happening off the course, then being able to focus on what’s going on, on the course.

“So I’ve got better at it, I’ve got used to it. It’s just something that it’s been a part of my life for the last couple years, so that’s how and that’s why I handle it better now.

“All that stuff, it’s experience, and it gets ingrained. I always try to learn from experiences, from mistakes and from success. Life in general is a big learning curve. I just try to learn from everything and move on. I feel I’ve learnt a lot in that regard this year.”

McIlroy will defend his title next week at the Australian Open, then kick back until the early part of 2015. Though there is pending litigation against his former management firm on the horizon, McIlroy said it will not materially affect his schedule next year, including traditional stops in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

That represents welcome news for the UAE, where he has played some of his best golf.

“I’ll be able to play all the events that I usually play,” he said.

Involved in more legal wrangling, McIlroy has not played in six weeks, but spent the past 10 days in Dubai, knocking the rust off his clubs.

He showed up at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Tuesday looking tanned and rested.

Most of the other favourites in the 60-man field have played the last two weeks in China and Turkey.

“I feel like I’m probably a little fresher than most of the guys, as well,” McIlroy said.

“I think there’s a few jaded minds and bodies getting off that plane from Turkey. Hopefully, I can use that to my advantage and put in a good performance this week.”

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Updated: November 18, 2014 04:00 AM

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