Rory McIlroy begins his year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. We spoke to the World No 3 about his hopes for the tournament and delved into the life of a pro golfer.

How important is it to play well in Abu Dhabi and gain some momentum for 2014? My strong finish to 2013 gives me the perfect platform goint into 2014. My confidence is high and I’m looking forward to starting my season in Abu Dhabi. I  always start my season there and it’s the best place to kick off the year.

You seem like a very easy going presence on the golf course. Is it a calm exterior with tension underneath? No, I’m pretty easy going. I don’t think getting stressed on the course would be good for my performance. I keep things in perspective and not stress about the little things. You can’t dwell on bad shots.

When you’re playing a big tournament, does your mind wander or are you 100 per cent focused for every single minute? I think it is important to be able to switch off between shots. If you’re playing rounds that are five hours-plus, it would be exhausting to be fully focused every minute.

Rory McIlroy and Caroline WozniackiIf you have a bad day on the course do you rant and rave or do you quickly move on? I don’t rant and rave but I might be churning internally if I think I have let myself down. I always keep in mind that tomorrow is another day. A bad round is not the be all and end all, and I know I can go out and do better tomorrow.

Do you ever get bored of playing golf? No, not really. I am lucky to do something I love as my profession. That’s not to say things don’t feel like a grind when they aren’t going well. But I know how fortunate I am and how many people would love to be doing what I’m doing. Think how many people would love to be starting their 2014 by playing a beautiful course in the sunshine of Abu Dhabi and calling it ‘work’.

Your profession involves lots of travelling. Do you enjoy it or is it a grind? Sometimes it can get a bit tiring. When I’m travelling I pop on my head phones, listen to music and escape into my own little world. I love to look around the places I visit. Going to local restaurants and experiencing cultures is part of what makes the life of a professional golfer so varied and fun.

When you get home after a tournament what’s the first thing you do? Well, it certainly isn’t unpacking – I hate unpacking. I love going to my house in Florida and inviting my friends over or going home to Northern Ireland to see my parents and friends. I see my friends and family all the time, be it in at golf tournaments or in Northern Ireland.

Do you have to watch what you eat? Yes, but I treat myself when I fancy it. I lead an active lifestyle so the odd treat, a burger or a chocolate sundae, doesn’t do me any harm.

If you could be World No 1 in any sport other than golf, what sport would you choose? I recently filmed a Nike commercial with Wayne Rooney and the things he can do with a football are unbelievable, so it would be amazing to be able to play football like him. Otherwise, I’d pick tennis so I wouldn’t get beaten quite so easily by my girlfriend.

January 16 to 19
Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi. Dhs50. Taxi: Abu Dhabi Golf Club. abudhabigolf