McIlroy chases Sun City title after run of close calls

By Ken Borland

European number two McIlroy has had three successive top-four finishes and is keen to claim his first win since landing his maiden victory at the Dubai Desert Classic in February.

"It would be massive for me to win here and end the year on a high," the 20-year-old from Northern Ireland told reporters on the eve of Thursday's first round. "It feels like every Sunday recently I've been disappointed even though I've played well.

"I played well in China and Hong Kong and in Dubai Lee (Westwood) just played better. But to just miss out for three weeks in a row is quite hard to take."

McIlroy finished third behind tournament winner and new European number one Westwood at the season-ending Dubai World Championship last month.

"I've always watched this tournament on TV, it's an incredible course and it's really cool to now play it," said world number 10 McIlroy.

GREAT PAR-FIVE

"I've been looking forward to playing the ninth, it's a great par-five and you can go for it in two over the water."

McIlroy and defending champion Henrik Stenson are the only top-10 players in the world rankings appearing in this week's 12-man invitational event.

"Rory has had a great year and he will be a strong contender but if you are good enough to qualify for this event you are good enough to win it," said world number seven Stenson.

"(Fellow Swede) Robert Karlsson played nicely with me last week in the World Cup and I expect him to challenge too. It's always nice to come back to a course where you have won and I have loved playing here since 2006."

World number 18 Retief Goosen, the 2004 champion, leads the South African challenge alongside Tim Clark and Richard Sterne.

U.S. Masters champion Angel Cabrera, British pair Luke Donald and Ross Fisher, Australian Robert Allenby and Americans Hunter Mahan and Nick Watney complete the lineup.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)