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McIlroy in competitive SA Open mood

World number two Rory McIlroy is unfazed by the overwhelming favourite tag pinned to his shirt at this week's BMW SA Open at the Glendower layout in Ekurhuleni.

Rory McIlroy
Photo: Trevor Cramer
Hosted by South African golfing icon Ernie Els, the 106th edition of the second oldest Open tournament gets underway on Thursday.

"I don't think about it too much really," said McIlroy, who is fulfilling a promise to his friend Els to play in South Africa.

"There are some very strong players in this field," he added.

"Brandon Stone, the defending champion is playing some great golf. He knows this golf course very well and has been in great form the past few months."

McIlroy, who is back in the swing again following a four-day safari at a leading South African game lodge, says he also feels 2015 champion Andy Sullivan is a likely contender.

McIlroy further feels that it would be foolish to discount the likes of Els and Retief Goosen.

South Africa's 'big three' Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel won't be in action at Glendower this week.

"I know if I play the way I know I can I'll have a good chance to win. But I still have to get myself into a position so that I am in with a chance come Sunday."

The affable Northern Irishman is back in the country for the first time since falling agonisingly close to making a playoff at the 2008 SA Open at Pearl Valley in the Western Cape, a tournament that cannoned him into the top 50 in the world rankings at that stage.

But he insists he isn't here on holiday or to shake off any holiday rust. He wants to make a winning start to his year.

"I worked very hard in Dubai for 10 days until I came through here. I am in competitive mode, make no mistake."

"Sure, knowing I was coming down here for the first time in a while I wanted to do something different and I went on a safari, got into the bush, which was wonderful, so while there may be a bit of rust it's nothing I can't shake off," said McIlroy.

(File Photo: Trevor Cramer)

Twitter - @SportswaveAndre

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