It’s hard to recall the last time Rory was not in contention whenever he picked up a club.

When you bring him to one of his favourite hunting grounds at Emirates Golf Club, his rivals at the 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic must know they need to bring their ‘A’ game to defy his quest for a third crown here — even when he doesn’t do the same.

The world No. 1 has seen the likes of Jon Rahm flirt with his status as the best on the planet, but he is determined to do his bit about that, come the final two rounds in Dubai.

With an unremarkable 70 to follow his roller-coaster opening 66, the Northern Irishman is somewhat content with his game as he sits T7 alongside a host of rivals including Patrick Reed and Ian Poulter, two behind the leading trio of Richard Bland, Thomas Pieters and amateur Michael Thorbjornsen.

“I would like some more of the same with two [rounds] to go but a bit poor so far,” he said despite rising above around 125 players in the field.

“I think I only hit two fairways today, So when you can’t hit fairways around here, and the rough is quite thick, it’s very hard to have any control of your ball and get it close into par 4s.

“I chipped and putted it well, and I sort of, you know, got myself around the golf course OK. Being able to post a couple of decent scores and at least have a chance going into the last two day is great.

“But definitely, I have more negatives than positives and need to go and figure it out on the range.”

With that he did indeed set off to the range, with a parting thought on the Monday finish for the Rolex Series event.

“I’m glad we are finishing. It’s good that all the field get an opportunity to play 72 holes. I think it’s a good thing. It’s such a big event. I think now the discrepancy between these big events on tour and then the lesser ones, that fourth day could mean a lot to someone in terms of changing the course of their year or the course of their career.

“Obviously happy we are playing 72, and it’s not as if people have to

go that far. Most of the guys are going to Ras Al Khaimah, a few guys are going to Saudi Arabia [for the $5 million Saudi International on the Asian Tour], so we’re not having to go anywhere else. Everyone can sort of still get to their destinations on Monday night. Thankfully for me, there’s two more rounds.