McIlroy claims first win of year
Rory McIlroy finally claimed his first win of the year on Monday, albeit in an 18-hole exhibition, and is now targeting further success before the end of the season.
McIlroy beat world number one Tiger Woods for the second year in succession in their lucrative exhibition at Mission Hills, carding a six-under-par 67 to win by a shot.
The 24-year-old has not tasted victory in a full tournament in 2013, a stark contrast to his five wins last year which included a second major title by eight shots in the US PGA Championship.
However, the Northern Irishman was second in the Korean Open earlier this month and believes his game is improving, partially thanks to using a new ball and driver.
"It's much better," McIlroy, who made a controversial switch to Nike in January, told a press conference. "I've seen a lot of promising signs over the past few weeks in practice and also in competitive play.
"I still have four tournaments left until the end of the season and I would love to finish 2013 strongly and get a little bit of momentum going into next season.
"But I think as I showed out there, I'm hitting the ball well. Tee to green, the game was very solid, and if I can just get the putter going a little bit more and get a few more putts to drop, then in these last four tournaments, I can hope to contend and maybe pick up a win or two."
McIlroy will contest the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai this week and the Turkish Airlines Open, but needs to climb from 62nd on the Race to Dubai into the top 60 to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship next month.
Woods, who was heard swearing during television coverage of the contest, was struggling with an illness and said: " I mean, obviously you can hear, I probably don't sound my best. But it's nice that it was warm out there today. That certainly helps. I'm hoping that my fever broke and that I'm going to start feeling a little bit better.
"But I tell you what, when you have kids, they bring home some strong stuff. So this one was definitely kicking my butt for the last few days."