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Rory McIlroy already preparing for Masters challenge in April

With one eye on the Masters, world number one Rory McIlroy is focused on improving his game at the Dubai Desert Classic.

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Rory McIlroy believes this week's Dubai Desert Classic offers him the perfect opportunity to fine tune his game ahead of the Masters in April.

The world number one has not won on tour since his PGA Championship in August, but has finished runner-up in four of his last five tournaments.

A late charge earlier this month saw McIlroy finish one shot behind eventual Abu Dhabi Championship winner Gary Stal, a frustrating end to a superb round of 66 on the Sunday.

McIlroy returns to Dubai looking to repeat his 2009 victory, while also working on his game to ensure he is ready for the first major of 2015 at Augusta National " where he could complete a career grand slam.

"There's a few things I'm happy with in my game that if Augusta was to roll around next week," he said.

"I'd be happy going there knowing that I'm hitting the ball the way I want to, but I think it's important just to put in some good performances before that and get into contention and feel what it's like in the heat of the moment.

"That's when you really know how your game is and how it holds up against some pressure.

"It [Dubai] has been [a happy hunting ground] in the past. I'm looking forward to it. My game is in good shape so I'll see what I can do.

"I'm very happy with where my game is tee to green. I put some good work in last week on my short game which I felt needed a little bit of sharpening up from Abu Dhabi; hopefully I can just keep it going.

"I've got four days to try and get back on the victory trail and it feels like a long time since my last win, so it would be nice to get another one pretty soon and start the year off with a victory under my belt.

"This was the place of my first victory as a pro so I'll always have good memories. I guess it is where it all began."

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