December 26, 2016 / 10:42 AM / 7 months ago

McIlroy out to keep up proud Dubai Classic record

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Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland in action. WGC-HSBC Champions Golf Tournament - Shanghai, China - 30/10/16.Aly Song

DUBAI (Reuters) - World number two Rory McIlroy will be looking to maintain a proud record when he competes in the $2.65 million Dubai Desert Classic in February.

The four-times major champion won the event in 2009 and 2015 and has finished in the top 10 in each of his seven previous visits to the Emirates Golf Club.

"I have great memories of this tournament," McIlroy said in a news release on Monday. "I made the cut here for the first time in a European Tour event as a 17-year-old amateur in 2007 and it was here I secured my first professional win two years later.

"I will always cherish those important moments in the early part of my career. That first win was a real stepping-stone for me, helping my confidence and leading to the successes that followed," said the Northern Irishman.

British Open champion and world number four Henrik Stenson and U.S. Masters winner Danny Willett, who lifted the Dubai Classic trophy last year, are also in the field for the Feb. 2-5 tournament.

The Dubai Classic is the last in the tour's three-event Middle East swing that also includes the Abu Dhabi Championship from Jan. 19-22 and the Qatar Masters from Jan. 26-29.

Writing by Tony Jimenez; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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