Rory McIlroy returns to competition this week in Dubai, where he ended his 2023 campaign around two months ago at the DP World Tour Championship.
This week is a new tournament for the DP World Tour with the staging of the Dubai Invitational, being played on the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club that last hosted a DP Tour event with the 2000 Dubai Desert Classic.
It will also be the first tournament for the World No. two in what will be his 17th full season on the Tour since securing his Tour card late in 2007 by finishing third in the Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews.
However, 2024 will also mark a decade since McIlroy last captured a major championship with his 2014 PGA Championship success in near darkness on the Valhalla course in Louisville, Kentucky.
And in heading into the Chinese Year of the Dragon, the one major that McIlroy would dearly love to win to break the drought would be the Masters, a victory to also open the door to the exclusive club with just five members to have won all four majors.
McIlroy spoke of the Masters after a morning practice round ahead of this week’s Dubai event.
“The Masters is the Disneyland of golf,” McIlroy said, speaking with Golf Digest.
“You go there, put the Mickey Mouse ears on and get into what it is. And when you leave you snap out of it.
“My big thing about Augusta is just to go in there playing well. The weeks before are important just to get me feeling like I’m in good form.
“This year, in fact, I’m going to play more before the Masters. It will be my ninth or 10th event of the year. Previously, it’s been my sixth or seventh. I’ll hopefully be a bit sharper and know exactly where my game really is”.
And what would it mean to be fitted with an Augusta National members jacket?
“I’ve just about said all I have to say about the Masters,” he said.
“I’d love to win it. If I don’t, I probably will look back and think I missed out on something. I did an interview a few years ago when the interviewer asked if I felt like I deserved a green jacket. I don’t deserve anything. The game has given me more than enough. I have to go out there and earn it.
“People can say the course suits my game all they want, I still have to go out there and play golf.
“I’m on a pretty strong list of players who have won three of the four majors. But I’d like to be on the shorter list of those who have won all four.”