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Rory McIlroy getting back in the Swing in Abu Dhabi

| 14.01.2014

That would be quite something wouldn’t it? Caroline Wozniacki winning the Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne just a few weeks after her betrothed Rory McIlroy won the men’s golf equivalent in Sydney.

It’s unlikely to happen, according to Coral, who quote the Dane at 80/1 to win her first Grand Slam event ahead of her second round match against Christina McHale on Thursday morning.

But McIlroy will be in a wonderful frame of mind as he tees it up for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship as Coral’s 11/2 favourite after that big win Down Under and then a successful proposal of marriage to Wozniacki in the New Year.

Certainly much better than he was 12 months ago when, using new clubs, he missed the cut here after four top five finishes in a row in the event. 2013 will be a year the Ulsterman will be glad to put behind him in many ways, but at least it finished on a high and he is making all the right noises about coming back stronger than ever in 2014.

This weekend’s event, the first in a three-tournament ‘Middle East Swing’, has brought together some of the best golfers in the world, including the undisputed Player of 2013 Henrik Stenson (8/1) and American multiple major winner Phil Mickelson (18/1).

This is, however, a competition that has been dominated by two players since its inception in 2006: Paul Casey, who has won it twice, and Martin Kaymer, who lifted the trophy in 2008, 2010 and 2011 and who also finished runner-up in 2009.

Both Casey (40/1) and Kaymer (14/1) are in the process of getting their games back to where they used to be and McIlroy and Stenson may end up being pressed harder by the in-form Dutchman Joost Luiten (25/1) and talented young Dane Thorbjorn Olesen (50/1), who lost out by a shot to Welshman Jamie Donaldson (25/1) 12 months ago.

Sergio Garcia (10/1), back in the world’s top ten following a strong finish to 2013, also appeared to benefit from a little romantic support when beating Henrik Stenson by four shots in Thailand last month with his girlfriend Katharina Boehm on the bag.

South African Branden Grace (25/1), fifth in last year’s event, is another to consider seriously following recent strong showings on home soil.




Jon Freeman