Only victory will do for McIlroy

McIlory is hoping to break a run of three straight second-place finishes on the European Tour and he is back on familiar territory in the Emirate.

The Northern Irishman has featured in this event more than any other, including twice as an amateur. He recorded his first victory as a professional there in 2009 and has finished in the top 10 every year since.

He said: “I am disappointed if I don’t win, to be honest. You’re not here to try to finish in the top five.

“I’d definitely like to break the runners-up duck the right way than the wrong way. We’ll see. But I’m comfortable on this golf course, and I have good memories here, and I seem to play the course very well.”

McIlroy was runner-up in the World Tour Championship in November, the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December, and the Abu Dhabi Championship two weeks ago in his first start of the year.

“I’ve done this the last few years where I’ve played Abu Dhabi, taken another week off to practise and then come here and play in Dubai,” he added.

“Looking forward to the week. The course is in fantastic shape, the greens are as good as I’ve ever seen them, and I feel like my game is in good shape.

“I’m very happy with where my game is tee to green and I put some good work in over the last week on my short game, which I felt needed a little bit of sharpening up from Abu Dhabi. I’ve got four days to try and get back on the victory trail and feels like a long time since my last win.”??

To finish the tour’s desert swing a winner again, he will have to beat the likes of world No 2 Henrik Stenson, No 5 Sergio Garcia, No 12 Martin Kaymer, and two-time defending champion Stephen Gallacher, who is a remarkable 55-under par in his last three tournaments on the Majlis course.

The event also marks the first European Tour start of the year for Ryder Cup stars Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell while Ernie Els, a three-time Classic winner, and holder of the course record of 11-under par 61, is also in the field.