In the heat of the Dubai sun, the DP World Tour Championship offers Rory McIlroy a final chance at redemption for what's been an extremely disappointing 2013.
On Friday night, the Northern Irishman remains among the contenders to win the final stage of the European Tour but is by no means a certainty as Henrik Stenson leads going into Day 3.
In 2012, McIlroy aimed for the stars and reaped just rewards. He was 2012 PGA Player of the Year and European Tour Golfer of the Year, raking in the most prize money of any PGA star and impressing across the board.
This year, the 24-year-old has slipped considerably and is yet to win even a single tournament outside exhibition parameters, with this weekend's proceedings in Dubai still a very tall order for the youngster.
In August 2012, McIlroy had just won the PGA Championship, his first and only major of the year, but his second of five total tour wins—PGA and European Tour included.
The best European stage finish managed by the player this time around was joint-sixth place at the 2013 WGC HSBC Champions earlier this month, which earned McIlroy his biggest prize pot of the year.
Unfortunately for McIlroy, he plays in a sport where mediocrity at the top level is more than satisfactory for some, but only those who were consistent in their winning are remembered as the best.
After all, a pro could write an extremely comfortable story based off a career of second-place finishes, but McIlroy is deserving of more.
The player himself has admitted, per Larry Brown Sports' Steve DelVecchio, that financial distractions off the course have played their part in his downhill performances, saying:
It’s something that I don’t really think any athlete or anyone should ever go through. I’ve seen more lawyers’ offices and more lawyers this year than I care to see in my entire life. It’s not something I ever want to go through again and I’m making sure that I won’t ever go through it again.
But as a golfer you want your mind as clear as possible, and it’s obviously hard for that to happen if you’ve got other things that are going on that, firstly, you don’t want to happen, and secondly you don’t feel should be happening.
One thing McIlroy has always said is that his profiled split with Caroline Wozniacki will not have had an effect on his game.
Considering the Northern Irishman won in Dubai last year, this weekend stands as well as any other comparison between form that one might care to make, proving that McIlroy has certainly changed between the figure he was 12 months ago and now.
McIlroy's troubles are testament to the notion that celebrities can indeed suffer greatly as a result of their success and unless something can be taken from Dubai this weekend, 2013 will go down as one to forget.