Rory McIlroy had that familiar strut flowing in Dubai on Thursday. And why not after tossing a 63 at the top of the leaderboard two weeks after nearly winning his first outing in Abu Dhabi?
It's early but McIlroy sure looks like he's starting to really feel it again.
McIlroy told Golf Channel that the sport really isn't as simple as he often makes it look.
"I don't think it's ever easy," he said. "Sometimes it's harder than other times, but I've put a lot of hard work in the last few months."
The Ulsterman was paired with world No. 1 Tiger Woods and despite Woods' 68 it was McIlroy's scorecard that was the talk of the tournament.
The group started on the back and McIlroy found himself 8 under after 12 holes and staring a potential 60 right in the eyes:
"It was good," McIlroy said. "It was really nice. I played really well from tee to green, drove the ball well again. I think I only missed a couple of fairways and only missed one green where I had to really get it up and down."
It's true. McIlroy's game was on all morning. He hit 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens.
"You can see how I'm driving it," McIlroy told ESPN. "I'm leaving myself a lot of wedges into the green."
If this keeps up McIlroy will run away and hide with his second Dubai Desert Classic in six years.
But he has company, namely his playing partner Woods who said he started to feel out his driving at the end of the first round.
"When I get it [correct], I hit these bullet cuts that go forever. And I started getting that toward the end [of the round]," said Woods to ESPN.
It's tough for me to project an entire season from McIlroy based on this one round (much less the rest of the tournament), especially since I wrote a long post just last week about how Tiger's 79 at Torrey meant nothing.
But I have a feeling this isn't the last 63 we see from Rory this year. And I have a feeling this isn't the last time he leads a tournament in which both he and Woods are playing.
Rory is back -- not because of Abu Dhabi or the 63 -- you can see it in his voice, you can literally watch him be back by the way he carries himself on the course and in interviews.
He's feeling it again and that's just grand for the game of golf.