Rory McIlroy wins fourth Dubai Desert Classic

Rory McIlroy wins fourth Dubai Desert Classic


Rory McIlroy won a record-breaking fourth Hero Dubai Desert Classic as he successfully defended his title on a dramatic afternoon at Emirates Golf Club on Sunday.

The Co Down native claimed a maiden Rolex Series crown at this event 12 months ago but came into the weekend ten shots back before a stunning third-round 63 put him into the final group on Sunday.

McIlroy turned a two-shot deficit into a four-shot lead with six holes to play before a bogey on the 13th gave the chasing Adrian Meronk, a fomrer Irish Open winner, and US golfer Cameron Young, a glimmer of hope.

Meronk reduced the lead to one in the eighth Race to Dubai tournament of the season, as he signed for a 71. Rory McIlroy held his nerve down the back stretch and signed for a 70 and a 14 under par total, to give him a one-shot victory in the $9 million tournament.

“It’s a great start to the season,” McIlroy admitted. “I started well last year with the win here. A couple of little things still to work on but these weeks are great. You learn a ton from them and obviously great to get the competition and come out on top as well.

“I thought on Friday night, I thought ten under for the weekend, I would have a really good chance to win. I shot 11 and ended up winning by one.

I’ve played the game long enough to sort of know how these things are going to go. Thankfully I played the golf I needed to and it’s just incredible to get my fourth win here at the Emirates.

“The pivotal point for me came on the eighth and ninth hole – making two threes there, that sort of set me up to try to control it on the way in.

“I made that one blunder on 13 and made bogey there but felt like I steadied the ship well over the last few holes and it was one of those days where there wasn’t a ton of fireworks just because the course was so difficult. I held on as best as I could and thankfully no one around the top of the leaderboard made much of a run.”

American Young finished with a 74 for 12 under, two shots ahead of Canadian Aaron Cockerill, Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal and Chilean Joaquin Niemann.

The win takes McIlroy past Ernie Els’ hat-trick of Desert Classic victories and hands him his third Rolex Series triumph, having won three of the last five blue riband events.

The Irish golfer becomes just the second player to successfully defend this title after Stephen Gallacher lifted the Dallah Trophy in 2013 and 2014 and makes it six wins in Dubai with his two victories at the DP World Tour Championship.

Discussing his historic victory, the Holywood golfer said:

“Just to think like 18 years ago, and what it meant to come here and play in this event, to be sitting here, you know, having won it four times, and all the great experiences that I’ve had in Dubai and the friends that I’ve met and everything sort of along the way, it’s always been a place where I come back to and reminisce about my career because I really feel like it’s where everything started. 

“So it’s amazing to sit here. The first Desert Classic, I took a media credential and I walked inside the ropes to follow Tiger and Ernie and Thomas Bjorn, and then just to think about even the arc of that: Thomas Bjorn was my Ryder Cup Captain; I ended up buying Ernie Els’s house; I’ve become really good friends with Tiger Woods. It’s just amazing to think back on the last 18 years and sort of where I find myself. 

!I certainly don’t take anything for granted, and I always appreciate the opportunity to be able to do what I do.”

The 34-year-old has started the defence of his Race to Dubai Rankings with a runner-up finish and a win as he looks to become Europe’s Number One for a sixth time, moving to the top of the Rankings for the 2024 title and the International Swing.

Both Tom McKibbin and Pádraig Harrington finished the tournament on 282.

Select Final scores 274 R MCILROY) 71 70 63 70,  275 A MERONK (POL) 68 66 70 71,  276 C YOUNG (USA) 67 64 71 74,  278 P LARRAZ?BAL (ESP) 73 69 70 66, A COCKERILL (CAN) 71 67 72 68, J NIEMANN (CHI) 69 72 67 70,


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