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21st Jan 2024

Rory McIlroy shows final day mettle to win €1.4m Dubai Desert Classic


Four times now, or three-and-a-half, if you were to take Gerry McIlroy’s gesture as a guide!

Rory McIlroy made up for the disappointment of his costly finish at the Dubai Invitational, last weekend, to win the Dubai Desert Classic, and take home a winners’ cheque of €1.4 million.

McIlroy was well down the leaderboard, coming into the third round, but carded a stupendous 63. That had him two behind Cameron Young going into the final round and he went -2 around the emirates Golf Course, while the American wilted.

The victory was McIlroy’s fourth Dubai Desert Classic, but his father’s gnarly little finger told a different story – much to the amusement of Rory and his mother, Rosie.

DP Desert Classic – final day review

With Rory McIlroy facing off against Cameron Young, Adrian Meronk and some of Europe’s best young prospects, golf writer Paddy Morgan has the full final day story.

Cameron Young went into day four with a two-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Adrian Meronk. Both Young and McIlroy opened up with pars at the first hole. The second hole at Majlis is a reachable 351 yard par four. McIlroy reduced the deficit to one shot after finding 351 yard par four in one shot.

The third hole is a 601-yard par five. McIlroy’s second shot ended up off the green whereas Young hit an extraordinary third shot from 133 yards. Both McIlroy and Young finished the third hole with disappointing pars, though. At the par-three fourth hole McIlroy achieved a par whereas Young dropped a shot.

After six holes McIlroy was joint leader with Meronk on -13 due to Young dropping two shots. McIlroy finished the front nine in style as he held two sensational birdie putts at the eighth and ninth hole.

After nine holes Young was -12 under and McIlroy -15. Meronk made an excellent birdie at the third hole and played his first six holes in one under. On the seventh, Meronk misjudged his chip shot as it rolled into the water. The Pole finished the front nine with a double bogey and a bogey to shoot 37.

Meronk’s playing partner was Haotong Li, who opened up his round holing a 40-foot birdie putt at the first. On the second, Li took a penalty drop yet held an extraordinary par putt. He dropped a shot at the fourth hole but bounced back two holes later with a birdie. Li played the front nine in one under.

In the third last group it was Joaquin Niemann and Rasmus Hojgaard. The Dane got off to a fantastic start as he reached -11 after six holes. Hojgaard was unlucky as his tee shot at the seventh hole rolled into a penalty area which resulted in a double bogey. He played the front nine in one over. Niemann dropped a shot at the fourth hole but bounced back quickly with a birdie on hole five to shoot a front nine of 34. Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Fitzpatrick played together on day four but had a combined front nine of six over.

McIlroy started the back nine with a disappointing par whereas Young made his first birdie on day four. Young then hit two extremely poor iron shots which resulted in bogeys at both 11 and 12. After 12 holes McIlroy had a four-shot lead.

Meronk nearly plonked his third shot into the hole for eagle but returned to -11 after 10 holes. Li was forced to take another penalty drop at the 10th hole but hit an unbelievable third shot
and held a fantastic putt for birdie.

The 13th hole at Majlis is a par five and McIlroy attempted to cut a corner with his tee shot. He did not need to take this shot on with having a big lead and was extremely lucky to find his ball. The four-time major winner was all over the place at the 13th, which eventually ended with a bad bogey. Young didn’t take advantage of McIlroy’s mistake as the American was unsuccessful with his birdie effort. McIlroy’s lead was reduced to one shot, though, due to birdies by Meronk at 13 and 14.

Li’s chance of a second Dubai Desert Classic win came to an end as he made three bogeys in a row at 14,15 and 16. He two-putted the 18th for birdie to finish in a tie for seventh on -9. Hojgaard made a great birdie at the difficult 12th hole but a bogey on 13 was crucial as Danish star finished in a tie for 11th . Niemann birdied the 15th hole and finished tied fourth on -10. Adam Scott, Nicolai Hojgaard, Pablo Larrazabal and Aaron Cockerill all shot under par rounds to finish in the top 10. Tom McKibbin finished in a tie for 14th on -6.

Back with the leaders and McIlroy made pars at 14, 15,16 and 17 to take a two-shot lead to the 72nd hole. Meronk made a birdie on the 18th hole to finish second on -13. Young made three birdies and five bogeys in his final round to finish third on -12.

A par was good enough for McIlroy to win his fourth Hero Dubai Desert Classic on -14. It has been a great start to 2024 for McIlroy with a tied second at Dubai Invitational and his third Rolex Series win at Dubai Desert Classic.

It was a remarkable win for McIlroy, too, considering he was 10 shots behind after the opening two rounds.


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