Rory McIlroy fended off a spectacular challenge from Patrick Reed to win the Hero Dubai Desert Classic for the third time in dramatic circumstances.
McIlroy birdied the final two holes at the Emirates Golf Club to eventually mark 68 and finish 19-under par. It was the first Monday finish in the history of the tournament, and he was one shot off the lead, proving well worth the wait.
Reed, who played in the group ahead of McIlroy, completed a stunning 65 on the 18th birdie to set a clubhouse target, but McIlroy was not denied a hard-fought win, holed from the last 15 feet to score a goal. , cemented his position as world number one.
“It means a lot,” McIlroy said. “It was a fight all day, it was a fight all week.
“I’m just thrilled to have been given the chance to come back in the first week. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but it’s a great start to the year.”
McIlroy and Reed began the week embroiled in a war of words after Reed threw a tee at McIlroy after being sneaky beaten by McIlroy on the practice field.
McIlroy didn’t see the T-shirt, but was unimpressed to receive a subpoena on Christmas Eve from a lawyer representing Reed in a defamation lawsuit against several media officials and organizations. The subpoena is related to another lawsuit filed by Larry Klayman.
“Mentally today was probably one of the toughest rounds I’ve ever played, because it’s really easy for your emotions to get in the way. Leaderboards and I did it really, really well.
Reed started the day four shots behind Reed, but birdied on his second and third shots and holed out of a greenside bunker on his sixth to cut the gap to one.
McIlroy briefly doubled his lead with a coveted birdie on the ninth for eight straight pars, but Reed almost holed his second shot to the par-5 10th for albatrosses.
A tap-in eagle took Reed to Reed’s share and McIlroy double-putted the same hole for birdie, but Reed also birdied at the 11th to return to level terms.
Reed hit his fifth birdie of the day on the par-5 13th hole to propel Reed to an outright lead for the first time, but much like his epic singles clash at the 2016 Ryder Cup, McIlroy won the same hole. I responded with a brilliant approach to and tapped. After narrowly missing from the eagle’s 18-footer, he scored a birdie.
McIlroy’s bogey on the 15th gave Reid the lead again, but the American quickly dropped a shot on the 16th following a wayward drive and McIlroy made the most of it with a birdie on the 17th to take the top spot. got back.
McIlroy’s drive on the 18th stopped just a foot short of the water and got to the ball when Reed putt birdie two to take the lead.
McIlroy, who was effectively forced into a layup, thundered in relief and joy after hitting a wedge 15 feet to the left of the pin and holed his putt.
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