World No 3 Rory McIlroy admits it would be “huge” if he could improve on his poor record on home soil and win this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
The tournament host has recorded just two top-10 finishes in nine tournament appearances and has missed the cut in his home event three years running.
McIlroy heads to the K Club off the back of a tied-fourth finish at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tied-12th showing at last week’s Players Championship, where the Northern Irishman missed a chance to break the TPC Sawgrass course record.
The 27-year-old is the only player in the world’s top five yet to register a worldwide win in 2016, but McIlroy feels his game is in good shape to challenge for victory this week.
“My performances in this event, obviously over the past three years, but going beyond that, haven’t been what I would want,” McIlroy said.
“I want to really change that this week with a good performance and I feel like my game is in good enough shape to do that.
“I’m coming off a couple of decent weeks in the States where I felt like I played better than what the results suggested, so I’m looking forward to the week.
“The K Club here is a golf course where I feel like I can do well on. It sets up well for me. It would be huge (to win). I think anyone that plays professional golf, they dream of winning their home open.
“You don’t get very many opportunities to do it, so it would be very special. It’s definitely one tournament that is missing from my CV that I would love to add.”
McIlroy tees off alongside Andy Sullivan and defending champion Soren Kjeldsen for the opening two rounds in Kildare, while Masters winner Danny Willett has been grouped with Lee Westwood and Rafa Cabrera Bello.
The four-time major champion posted an opening round 80 and missed the cut at Royal County Down 12 months ago, but feels he has learnt from last year’s first stint at tournament host.
“I think there was times where I spread myself a little bit too thin last year with a lot of commitments and we’ve tried to scale that back a little bit this year,” he added.