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Rory McIlroy fired himself up the Dubai Desert Classic leaderboard with a 66 on Friday over the Majlis Course at Emirates GC, and he revealed that he delivered on his promise after a request from his manager Sean O'Flaherty.
It is O'Flaherty's 40th birthday and prior to Rory's round he told the four-time Major winner that all he wanted was for McIlroy to shoot a 66, and that's exactly what he did!
"It's Sean's 40th birthday, and he said the only thing I want for my birthday is you going out there and shooting 66," McIlroy said on Friday in Dubai. "I was thinking of him on that putt over 18 for 66 and was able to hole it. It's not the only thing he'll get for his birthday but it's a good start."
McIlroy made four birdies and an eagle in his flawless 66, which put him four back of 36-hole leader Justin Harding. The Northern Irishman sits at seven-under-par ahead of the weekend as he seeks to win a third Dubai Desert Classic. He famously won his maiden European Tour title here in 2009 and went on to lift the famous trophy again in 2015.
The four-time Major winner made headlines prior to the event for sticking up for players who are receiving appearance fees for teeing it up in next week's Saudi International.
“Look, it's a tricky one," he said. "Everyone knows that. But as I’ve said before, I certainly don't blame anyone for going and doing it. At the end of the day, it's our job and livelihood. If someone comes and offers you that sort of money, it's hard to say no."
McIlroy placed T12th in Abu Dhabi last week after a weekend fightback over the windy Yas Links. He currently ranks 8th in the world.
Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Honma TR20
3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max
Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max
Irons: Honma TR20B
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x