'One Of The Best Golf Shots I've Ever Seen' - McIlroy Reveals Early Tiger Memory

The four-time Major winner recalled a memorable shot he saw Tiger Woods play at the 2006 Dubai Desert Classic

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy share a joke
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy returns to Emirates GC this week as one of the headline names in a star-studded Dubai Desert Classic field. The four-time Major champion and two-time Dubai Desert Classic winner made one of his first ever European Tour starts in this tournament back in 2006 as a 16-year-old, where he saw "one of the best golf shots I've ever seen" from Tiger Woods.

McIlroy said that he managed to get a media pass to watch Woods inside the ropes during the 2006 tournament where Tiger went on to defeat Ernie Els in a playoff.

"I had a better view than most being able to get inside the ropes and have a media credential and Tiger to this day, hit a 5-iron out of the right rough on 10 and landed on the green and stopped it on the green and to this day it was one of the best golf shots I've ever seen," McIlroy said. "Just sticks out in my mind and I was right there for it.

"But it's cool. I watched a lot of golf events as a teenager, and went to Mount Juliet for the World Golf Championships, went to The Open at Troon, went to the World Match Play at Wentworth a bunch of times. I loved getting up close and watching those guys play and try to learn something from them and get inspiration. If there's young kids running around this week, they can feel the same way or feel the same things as what I thought back then, then that's a pretty cool feeling."

Rory McIlroy pictured with the Dubai Desert Classic trophy in 2009

McIlroy's maiden pro win came at the 2009 Dubai Desert Classic

(Image credit: Getty Images)

McIlroy missed the cut that week in 2006 but did go on to win his maiden European Tour title three years later at the Dubai Desert Classic thanks to a one-stroke victory over Justin Rose. His second Dubai Desert Classic win came in 2015 when he finished three clear of Alex Noren. The Northern Irishman has also won three Race to Dubai titles at Jumeirah Golf Estates and previously lived in Dubai for four years.

He makes his first start in this event since 2018 when he finished runner-up to Haotong Li.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five 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 off of a six handicap. 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: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV