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29 November 2023

Mcilroy going far

Robert Karlsson is all praise for Rory McIlroy (DENNIS B MALLARI) 

By John McAuley

Rory McIlroy continued to collect the plaudits as much as the birdies at the Dubai Desert Classic yesterday, with Robert Karlsson endorsing the Northern Irishman's place at next year's Ryder Cup.

Karlsson, who managed to complete only two holes of his second round because of a three-hour weather delay in the morning, admitted he hasn't seen much of the 19-year-old up close, but believes McIlroy's recent good form proves he's a real emerging talent.

"I don't usually watch much TV, but I've seen him up there [on the leaderboard] and watched him a little bit on the driving range and stuff like that," said the Swede. "I think he looks like a very well-built, solid guy.

"He looks solid over all of his shots and he's been close to winning a couple of times so he's showed that he can do it. It's just a matter of time before he wins a tournament."

McIlroy charged to the top of the standings after an impressive eight-under par 64 on Thursday, but did not have much of a chance to build on that tally as the tournament was again delayed by fog.

The overnight leader had to finish his second round at the third. And Karlsson, who won the 2008 Order of Merit last season on his way to representing Europe at the Ryder Cup in Valhalla, feels that McIlroy could turn out alongside him in Wales' Celtic Manor next September.

"I would be very surprised if he doesn't," said the world No8. "I just turned professional when I was 19, so he's exceptional and way ahead of most other 19-year-olds.

"There are a few young guys if you look at the possible team for next time and one other young guy you'd expect to be there is [Martin] Kaymer, who was really close this year.

"But I think he's still probably three or four years older than Rory," added Karlsson. "So he's exceptional."