McIlroy admits legal battle has impacted on his game

World number six hoping to sort out issues that ‘occupy your head’

 Rory McIlroy  in action during the pro-am event prior to the 2013 DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates  in Dubai. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy in action during the pro-am event prior to the 2013 DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images


Rory McIlroy admits he’s seen enough of eagles of the legal variety for one lifetime as he prepares for the defence of his DP World Tour Championship crown in Dubai this week.

The world number six has had to contend with the major distraction off the course of an ongoing legal battle with former management company Horizon, a situation which he admits has had an effect on the course.

“There’s definitely been a few things that have impacted (on my performance on the course),” McIlroy added. “I’ve had a few different things to think about and different things that occupy your head that really shouldn’t,” he told a press conference in Dubai.

“It’s something that will be sorted out hopefully sooner rather than later. That’s the way it is and comes with the territory I guess.

“I’ve got people to handle that sort of stuff for me and I only see a fraction of it, the stuff that I really want to see. But again it’s something that shouldn’t be in my mind. It’s something that I don’t really think any athlete or anyone should ever go through.

“I’ve seen more lawyers this year than I care to see in my entire life. It’s not something I ever want to go through again and I’m making sure that I won’t ever go through it again.”

Twelve months ago McIlroy arrived in Dubai on the crest of a wave, the world number one having won his second Major title by eight shots and being just days away from a fifth victory of the season that secured the money list titles on both sides of the Atlantic.

One year on he is back at Jumeirah Golf Estates as the world number six, without a win all season and an also-ran in the Race to Dubai.

“Every year that I’ve come here, apart from 2010, I’ve been in the mix to win the Race to Dubai. It’s a little bit different coming in this week and not having much to play for in terms of that (he is 46th), but I still want to try and finish the season off really strongly,” said McIlroy.

“I feel like this course really suits my game. I know it would be a great way to cap off the European season with a win.”

The 24-year-old admitted to heeding the advice of stablemate Tiger Woods about managing his time.

“He said you have to remember what got you here in the first place and I think you guys (the media) know that with Tiger, it’s ‘No’ 99 per cent of the time,” McIlroy added.

“I’d say I’m a little more forgiving with my time than that, but there still needs to be a point where you have to say no and look after yourself.”

McIlroy was in danger of missing out on this week’s event – limited to the top 60 on the Race to Dubai – until finishing sixth in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, only a third top-10 finish on the European Tour this season.

But the Ryder Cup star feels he is on the right track and enjoys proving the doubters wrong after each dip in form.

“I guess I learnt last year how to deal with the hype and this year I’ve learned to deal with criticism,” he added. “Every year for me is still a new experience.

“I feel I’ve always thrived on adversity. I think back to the times when I had the collapse at the Masters and I came back and won the US Open because I wanted to prove to myself and other people that wasn’t who I am and that’s not the way I play under pressure.

“Last year at the US PGA was the same sort of thing. I went through a little lull of three or four months and people started to question things and I like proving people wrong. It’s something that I have to keep doing every year and hopefully I do that again this year as well.”

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