From Brian Keogh in Dubai
Rory McIlroy has set his heart on a weekend showdown with Tiger Woods in Dubai.
The Holywood teenager, 18, failed to land a dream draw with the world No 1 for the first two rounds as he was paired with David Frost and Swede Martin Erlandsson
But he still hopes he can get red-hot in the desert and test his game against the man he regards as "the best player that's ever lived."
Bursting with confidence despite a poor finish in Qatar last week, McIlroy beamed: "It would be great to be able to play with Tiger this week sometime. But it's just last Sunday there, it looked like it was a walk in the park. He's pretty cool."
McIlroy was seriously impressed as Woods cruised to an eight-shot victory in the Buick Invitational on Sunday night.
But the rookie superstar believes he won't be overawed by the Woods aura if they are paired together at some stage this week.
McIlroy said: "I don't think I'll get intimidated by him. He's just really good and I've got a lot of respect for him. He's probably the best player that's ever lived.
"You know, he's a pretty intimidating person. But to be honest, he's just like the rest of us. He's just tremendously good at golf.
"I met him at the Scotty Cameron studio in Carlsbad a few years ago. But it was only two minutes, hi, how you doing, in February, 2005.
"I'd love to get a chance to chat with him and see what he thinks and everything that went on early in his career and how he handled it and what he thought about it."
McIlroy came close to being paired with Woods in last year's Desert Classic before a poor finish to his third round sent him tumbling down the leaderboard.
And while he slipped to a share of 52nd in the end, he loves the course and has set his sights on being in the shake-up on Sunday.
He added: "I played pretty well the first two rounds last year and shot two 69s. I went three under for my round after 16 on the third day, as well, and I think that got me into the top 15 at that point and I was actually tied with Tiger.
"Tiger was walking up 10, and I saw the scoreboard and he was on the same score as me, which was pretty cool. But I dropped two in the last two holes which was pretty disappointing.
"All in all it was a great week for me. On the last day the shamaal came in and it was a pretty tough day and I shot a 76. But it was a great learning curve for me and will stand me in good stead for this career."
McIlroy has made a fast start to his first full season as a pro to stand 63rd in the Order of Merit and 22nd in the Ryder Cup standings.
But he confessed that he was disappointed with a Sunday 74 in last week's Qatar Masters that sent him crashing from joint eighth overnight to 33rd.
He said: "After shooting 66 on Saturday, I felt as if I had a chance going into the last round if I got off to a fast start.
"I felt if I could get maybe four under after nine, I'd have a good chance. But I think after dropping three shots in the first three holes, I probably just tried a bit hard.”
He still jumped 11 place to 190th in the world and hopes to continue his upward trend this week as he bids to get into the top 100 by August and qualify for the US PGA Championship.
He said: "It's pretty cool. Obviously I just want to keep working my way up the rankings. I've got a long way to go before the 40 events divisor, when I start losing points.
"It would be lovely to get into the Top 100 for the PGA and play in that. That's one of my maybe goals this year and if I can do that, I'd be very happy."