McIlroy falls just short as China's Li Haotong claims Dubai Desert Classic

30 January, 2018, 01:02 | Author: Felix Jensen
  • Dominant Donaldson takes early lead in Dubai

Li birdied four of his final six holes to post a three-under 69 and finish one ahead of McIlroy at Emirates Golf Club, securing the Chinese star a second European Tour title.

Rory McIlroy didn't attempt to disguise his disappointment after squandering a golden opportunity for his first victory in 16 months at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic yesterday. McIlroy needs to win at Augusta National to complete a career grand slam.

Four-time major victor Rory McIlroy, twice a victor in Dubai, finished in a five-strong group at seven-under alongside Dane Lasse Jensen, England's Chris Paisley, Alexander Bjork of Sweden and Belgium's Thomas Pieters. "Wanted to try to go flag hunting a little bit, which maybe I shouldn't have done, but happy with how I played".

I showed that even when I didn't have my best stuff today I was able to battle around and get in at a decent score.

'Ask me in a few days and we can talk about the positives to take from here and last week in Abu Dhabi but the competitor in me means it's hard to take right now, ' said McIlroy.

Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, South African duo Darren Fichardt and Haydn Porteous, Irishman Paul Dunne and China's Li Haotong were six under, a shot clear of a group containing defending champion Sergio Garcia.

McIlroy finished the 2017 season early after an injury-plagued year and he's now finished second and third since his return. "Having two close calls the first couple of weeks of the year, it's a little hard". I always want to win.

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"Birdieing 10 and going two ahead there with Li making bogey, I thought I was obviously in the driver's seat", McIlroy said in an interview with the European Tour.

But the momentum swung Li's way when he dropped a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 15th hole from the back fringe and McIlroy made a bogey on the 16th after hitting his three-wood off the tee into the waste area. I didn't really leave it in the best spots to be aggressive with my putts.

The World No 11 came into the tournament off the back of an impressive performance and a third-place finish in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship last week.

"I kept leaving myself in places where I couldn't give it a run at the hole because they were downhill, down-grain, downwind", McIlroy said.

'Yes, I tried to the end and birdies at the 17th and 18th holes meant he had to win it. I just wish I could get a couple of those holes back.

Jason Scrivener was the highest finishing Australian, claiming a share of sixth.

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