McIlroy Reveals Dubai 66 Was A Birthday Present To His Manager...

Rory's manager said all he wanted was for the Northern Irishman to shoot a 66, and that's exactly what the four-time Major winner did

Rory McIlroy with his cap off
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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.

Rory McIlroy poses with the Dubai Desert Classic trophy

McIlroy won his second Dubai Desert Classic title in 2015

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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
Senior Staff Writer

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x