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McIlroy surprised by strong start in Dubai

Rory McIlroy says he feels ahead of schedule in his return to competitive golf after an impressive start to the Dubai Desert Classic.

McIlroy has just returned to action having taken an extended winter break following an injury-hit 2017 and the time away appears to have done the four-time major winner the power of good.

The Northern Irishman caught the eye last week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, finishing in a tie for third on his first outing of 2018.

The 28-year-old looks to have carried over that form in to this week’s event in Dubai, a tournament he has won twice before, carding a seven-under par 65 to sit in a share of fifth following the first round.

McIlroy is looking to hit top gear in time for the Masters in April, the only major missing off his career CV, and feels he is making rapid progress in his bid to rediscover his best form.

“I didn’t expect to play as well as I did last week, and it’s been nice to continue that into this week,” McIlroy told Sky Sports. “I’m ahead of schedule right now, but I don’t mind that.

“That’s nice and I just have to reassess everything and go from there. Not being able to play to my best last year was something that I was very frustrated with.

“I’m really happy with where my body is, where my game is and this is just a progression of what I’ve seen over the past couple of months, which has been nice.”

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