McIlroy sets up desert base in Dubai

Rory McIlroy hopes that buying a home in the desert will help him end his victory drought and stay fresh for the Race to Dubai.

 

The Holywood teenager, 19, is so thirsty for his first tour win that he has decided to set up a permanent base in the mega-rich emirate.

The Ulster hotshot, who is sponsored by hospitality group Jumeirah, wants to take advantage of the Dubai's top class golf facilities.

And that means he will be spending several weeks of the winter in the fast-growing desert city as he hones his game for megabucks Race to Dubai in 2009 and a possible $3.66 million pay-day.

Speaking from his Co Down bachelor pad, McIlroy said: “I'll be working very hard this winter in Dubai where I will be buying a home and raising my sights even higher.

“Dubai’s golf facilities are absolutely world class and so good for my game. I feel so much at home there, and have become part of the Jumeirah family.

“They always look after me superbly, and setting up a permanent base there is a logical step.

McIlroy was shattered to miss an 18-inch putt in the Omega European Masters on Sunday that cost him his first European Tour win.

Keeping his game in tip-top shape over the winter will be key if he wants to keep up in the Race to Dubai and make the field for the $10 million Dubai World Championship on the Greg Norman-designed Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 19-22, 2009.

If McIlroy fails to win a tournament between now and the Volvo Masters, he will miss the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai from November 6-9, which kicks of the Race to Dubai.

The Race will replace the Volvo Masters finale with the player who tops the 2009 Order of Merit pocketing a $2 million bonus.

The winner of the season ending Dubai World Championship will get another $1.66 million and McIlroy wants to be firing on all cylinders so he has every chance of becoming Europe's No 1.

With 57 tournaments on offer in 28 destinations next term, his goal is to get his game razor sharp for the early season events in the Gulf and use Dubai as a stopping off point for the events in the Far East.

He said: "The season is such a long one now, and it’s vital to be able to stay fresh. My visits to Dubai have always helped me to do that.

“With my own home there, I’ll be able to relax even more, recharge my batteries, and take advantage of some of the best practice facilities for golf to be found anywhere.”

Bookmakers have been offering Rory McIlroy specials since the former World Amateur No 1 burst onto the scene at last year’s Open.

He is just 8-1 to win a tournament before the end of this year, 2-1 to play in the 2010 Ryder Cup and 6-1 to grab a Major before he is 25.

Determined to put his Swiss miss behind him, McIlroy said: “It’s disappointing to lose a play-off like that, but I’m happy that I led the tournament for so much of the week and it proves to me that I have the game to go on and win very soon.”

McIlroy turned professional on the eve of the Quinn Direct British Masters last September and signed up with Jumeirah the same week.

Just a fortnight later he scored a superb third place finish in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to gain his full playing rights on the 2008 European Tour.

And his sponsors in Dubai are certainly happy they locked McIlroy into a three year agreement.

Apo Demirtas of the Jumeirah Group said: “He’s worked so hard for what would have been his first victory on the PGA European Tour on Sunday, and there will be many more opportunities to come. It is only a matter of time before he secures a tournament victory.

“Rory is a great ambassador. We’re very proud to be partnering with such an exciting and talented young golfer who has the world at his feet.”