McIlroy sits 20th in the Race to Dubai heading into the DP World Tour Championship; Northern Irishman looking to win the European Tour’s season finale for a third time, having previously won the event in 2012 and 2015
Last Updated: 16/11/21 10:11am
Rory McIlroy has set his sights on a strong finish to an eventful 2021 as he chases a third victory at the European Tour’s DP World Tour Championship.
The former world No 1 is a two-time winner on the PGA Tour in 2021, despite struggling for form and consistency as he continued to battle issues with his swing during an up-and-down campaign.
McIlroy was visibly emotional after only registering one point for Team Europe in their record-breaking Ryder Cup defeat in September, although arrives in Dubai off the back of a winning start to the PGA Tour season and a historic 20th PGA Tour title at The CJ Cup last month.
Following McIlroy securing his 20th PGA Tour title at The CJ Cup, we take a look back at the highs and lows from an eventful 2021 for the former world No 1
“I feel like it’s been a year of exploration, learning,” McIlroy said. “There’s been some good parts, obviously the couple of wins in the [United] States were nice. I was also tied for the lead with nine holes to go at a major championship, at the U.S. Open.
“There’s been some good stuff in there. I’ve worked hard. I’ve learned a few things. And I feel like I’ve sort of went through that sort of barrier, struggle, if you will, and then I came through the other side of it.
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November 18, 2021, 5:00am
“It has been an interesting year. I don’t regret any of it. I think it’s been a good year. Happy to be here. Happy to feel like my game is in good shape. I feel like I’m playing well. I got some confidence from the win in [Las] Vegas and am trying to finish the year on a high.”
The four-time major champion confirmed last week that he had returned to childhood coach Michael Bannon on a more permanent basis, having worked for most of 2021 with instructor Pete Cowen, with McIlroy pleased with the state of his game going into the closing events of the year.
“Michael [Bannon] has always been my coach,” McIlroy added. “He’s coached me since I was eight years old. Even if he wasn’t visible, he’s been in the background for the last six months, and I think Michael knows my swing and my game better than I probably know it at this point.
“I talked to him at length after the Ryder Cup and we had organized for him to come out the week after Vegas [The CJ Cup] to start working again, then obviously I went and won Vegas.
“Those weeks in between the Ryder Cup and Vegas I feel like I figured a few things out on my own, which sometimes you need to do. Sometimes you need to go and throw hundreds of balls down on the range and hit some and figure it out on your own.
“I feel like I did that. I’m not saying that I don’t need any help ever again and I’ve got figured it out, but I talked about it in Vegas, just about being myself and not trying to do anything that other people do or what I can’t do. I sort of tried to figure it out myself. I guess I went to Vegas with a little more self-belief, and I won that tournament, and that gave me even more confidence.
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November 18, 2021, 7:00am
“If anything, Michael is more of a sounding board at this point. I say to him ‘this is what I’m trying to do, tell me if I’m completely not right’. Again, I’ve played golf a long time. I think I know what I’m doing for the most part. And that was really it.
“I’ve always had a relationship with Pete [Cowen], I’ve known Pete since I was 13 years old from the Irish setup, and if I want to ask his opinion on something, I can still do that. If I feel like I need his input, I’ll ask for it. As of right now, I’m happy with the setup that I’ve basically always had, and I’m excited for the road ahead.”
Watch the DP World Tour Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports Golf. Live coverage begins on Thursday with Featured Groups from 5am, ahead of full coverage from 7am.