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Thu 25 Jan 2018 10:05 AM

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McIlroy to scale back entourage in bid for Masters

Northern Irishman focused on winning Dubai Desert Classic for third time

McIlroy to scale back entourage in bid for Masters
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot during the pro-am as a preview for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the Majlis Cours at Emirates Golf Club.

Rory McIlroy said Wednesday that he will take a new approach to winning the Masters for the first time by slashing his Augusta support team which has ballooned to almost 20 people in recent years.

The four-time major champion needs to win the Green Jacket at Augusta National to complete a career grand slam, having already won the British Open, US Open and the PGA Championship. The Masters starts April 5-8.

Speaking on the eve of the $3 million Dubai Desert Classic, the 28-year-old Northern Irishman said: "One of the things I am planning to do is have less of an entourage around me at Augusta and treat it as any other tournament.

"In previous years, I’ve had seven people staying at my house and rented another house for 10 others. It becomes a production. Some people won’t be happy with me, but hey, I don’t mind if I win the Masters."

McIlroy said he will not get distracted by his attempts to break his Masters duck.

"I think I’ve got seven events from now until the Masters, so I’m sort of taking it week-by-week at this point. Once April starts, or the first time I go up there and play a couple of practice rounds, I’ll start to think about Augusta," he added.

“Right now it’s just about getting myself in a nice bit of form and playing tournaments and playing well. Come March time, I’ll turn my attention to it and start to focus on maybe shots that I need or different clubs I might need in my bag or whatever it is.

"Right now my focus is on the Dubai Desert Classic and trying to win here for the third time."

Niall Horan (R) the music artist with Rory McIlroy (L) of Northern Ireland and golfer Paige Spiranac of the United States on the eighth tee during the pro-am as a preview for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. (Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images)

McIlroy said his expectations were higher in Dubai after playing well down the road in Abu Dhabi where he finished tied for third on his comeback last week.

“Obviously, really happy with how everything went last week. If anything, I could have driven it a little straighter on the last day and given myself some more shots from the fairways to attack some pins, but really happy with how everything went and looking forward to getting back out there this week,” said McIlroy, who shot 18-under par last week.

“I have a lot of good memories here at the Majlis course. My first win, and I have been playing here since 2007 as an amateur.

“Abu Dhabi was above expectations for me to be honest.

"I thought if I could have shot four rounds under par and just saw some good, positive signs in my game, I would have went away happy. I guess that has changed the way I view this week a little bit. I know that my game is in good enough shape to contend and try to win.”

World number nine Sergio Garcia is the defending champion and he is coming off a win last week at the Singapore Open.

Another winner from last week in the field is England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who successfully defended his title in Abu Dhabi.

Also playing in Dubai are world number 10 Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who won the tournament in 2007, and world number 17 Pat Perez of the US, who has already won once and finished in top-five twice in six PGA Tour starts this season.

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