After two dramatic weeks in Dubai of which Rory McIlroy was the catalyst, there is a sense of normal service resuming this week as the first regular DP World Tour event of 2024 gets under way at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship.
Tom McKibbin and Pádraig Harrington will carry Irish hopes at Al Hamra Golf Club on Thursday.
McKibbin has enjoyed a bright start to the year, taking to his new Callaway clubs and golf ball like a duck to water it seems. A T25 finish at the Dubai Invitational was a solid opener but a T14 place in a Rolex Series event last week raised the eyebrows as he continued his consistent run of form.
The 21-year-old has made his last nine cuts on the DP World Tour and has moved up a whopping 50 places on the Race to Dubai into 34th position.
McKibbin has aspirations of securing a PGA Tour card for next season so turning top-20 finishes into top-10s in fields that are without bigger names will be important.
“I think there is a good opportunity [to get a PGA Tour card] now with the DP World Tour to have 10 cards available,” said the Holywood man.
“So to get one of those I’ve got to play a lot of good golf, but it’s definitely not impossible.”
Meanwhile, Harrington will be hoping for better when he tees it up after a missed cut at the Dubai Desert Classic.
The three-time major winner was still feeling the effects of a winter battle with pneumonia and a collapsed lung.
“I really did think I was over it,” Harrington reflected on last week.
“I travelled and I felt good and wanted to come out into the sunshine but I hit a wall after a couple of days practice and it’s been tough. I feel fine but I don’t have any sharpness or speed so you’re doing a bit of practice but at the same time you’re beating your head off a wall, just not there.”
McKibbin has been handed an intriguing tee time alongside Ryder Cup vice captain, Edoardo Molinari and Yannik Paul while Harrington will link up with Jordan Smith and Zander Lombard.