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Winning Desert Classic as close to McIlroy's heart as Wozniacki

Joint-leader draws inspiration from girlfriend's personal pursuit of perfection

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Rory McIlroy follows the ball on the 18th hole, on the secondday of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic yesterday.
Gulf News

Dubai: Perennial half-way point leader Rory McIlroy is hoping the presence of his tennis-playing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki can help him win a second Omega Dubai Desert Classic title this week.

Danish women's world No 4 Wozniacki, 21, who has been dating the Ulsterman for seven months, has in recent months been spotted supporting McIlroy, 22, at the Shanghai Masters, the Dubai World Championship and now the Desert Classic here.

At those previous two events, he won in China and finished a disappointing tied for 11th in Dubai. After 36 holes in his latest Dubai quest, McIlroy is the joint-leader on 13 under par 131 (66, 65), leaving him well placed for a weekend move.

However, this position is all too familiar for the 2009 champion, having thrown away similar mid-way leads or top-five positions here in two of the last three years.

Mutual support

And with just three days until Valentine's Day, McIlroy will be hoping for the ultimate present, that somehow the blonde bombshell's attendance acts as a good omen, because if not she may be banished back to the practice courts.

McIlroy, who spent the festive break with Wozniacki in Thailand, said: "I actually do alright when she's there. She practiced early this morning from 8 am until 10 am [for this month's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships] so she came and caught me on the back nine.

"I played well. She turned up at the back of the fourth green, so I do notice her. I played two or three under from there. This is her third tournament she's watched me play. It's been good, it's been great to have her here.

"It's nice to get away from the course and sort of take your mind off it and go and be ball boy at her practice sessions. I've seen how hard she works first hand and I feel I've worked harder than ever this off-season. It's great to see someone with so much drive, ambition and dedication to what they do."