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Omega Dubai Desert Classic 2018

Round 4 - Li Haotong holds on to lead and beats McIlroy to Dubai title

January 28, 2018

China's Li Haotong displayed nerves of steel to beat Rory McIlroy in a head-to-head battle and win the $3 million Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday.

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In an intense battle played out between the two players in the final group, Li managed to protect his one-shot lead at the start of the day by shooting a three-under-par round of 69 to tally a tournament-record 23-under total of 265.

McIlroy, who had surged ahead just after the turn, also made a 69 but a three-putt par on the par-5 13th hole, followed by a bogey on the par-4 16th, proved crucial as he finished on 266.

It was 22-year-old Li's second win on the European Tour following his triumph at the 2016 China Open, and he is sure of becoming the first Chinese player to crack into the top 50 of the world rankings on Monday.

"It was incredible to play with Rory. I gained a lot of experience from him. This win gives me a lot of confidence and will help me do better in the majors this year," said Li, who came third at last year's British Open at Birkdale.

He is now expected to rise to number 32 in the world.

Li started the day one ahead of McIlroy, but a bogey on the first hole brought them level. Both then birdied the third and seventh holes to make the turn at 21 under par, way ahead of the field.

England's Tyrrell Hatton briefly threatened to join the party with four birdies in six holes starting from the ninth, but he finished on 20-under after missing a birdie putt from four feet on the 17th and then hitting his second shot into the water on the 18th hole.

There was a two-shot swing in McIlroy's favour on the 10th hole when Li had to take an unplayable from the bushes after a wayward drive and made a bogey, while the Northern Irishman got his birdie.

The situation remained the same after McIlroy made a bogey from the bunker on the par-3 11th, followed by a Li bogey on the 12th.

It was then that the four-time major champion made his mistakes on the 13th and 16th holes, while Li made a stunning 20-feet birdie putt from the back fringe on the 15th.

"This is incredible. I just didn't think I could make that putt on 15. That was huge. I think that was the turning point. And also on 18, I didn't think I would make that one, either. Was quite happy in the end," said Li, who made a 10-feet birdie putt on the final hole to ensure the tournament did not go into a play-off.

McIlroy remains winless since August 2016 when he won the Tour Championship.

"From being two ahead standing on the 11th tee, to being, you know, level going into 16th, I don't know, it was a couple of bad shots, a couple of poor decisions, a couple of mental errors, a few tentative putts out there, as well," said McIlroy, who finished third in Abu Dhabi last week in his comeback tournament.

"But I tried until the very end. Made two good birdies. Made him win it in the end, which was all I could do, and he played very well on the way in, birdieing three of the last four. I just wish I could get a couple of those holes back.

"Having two close calls the first couple of weeks of the year, it's a little difficult. The competitor in me is very disappointed right now."

Hatton's 66 saw him move to third place on 268, 20 under par. He was followed by France's Alexander Levy (70) in sole fourth place at 19-under 269, while Chris Paisley (69) continued his remarkable form and finished fifth on 17-under.

Pos.
Player
Nat
To Par
R1
R2
R3
R4
Total
1
Haotong Li
CHN
-23
66
66
64
69
265
2
Rory McIlroy
NIR
-22
65
64
68
69
266
3
Tyrrell Hatton
ENG
-20
64
72
66
66
268

Click here for full final scores.

Round 3 - Li Haotong takes 1-shot lead over McIlroy

January 27, 2018

China's Li Haotong displayed his superstar potential as he outscored Rory McIlroy by four shots in the third round to take a one-shot lead into the final day of the $3 million Dubai Desert Classic.

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Starting his third round on Saturday trailing leader McIlroy by three shots, the 22-year-old Li put together a superb round of eight-under-par 64 to finish on 20-under after 54 holes.

Four-time major champion McIlroy came back to the course early in the morning to complete his second round and made five birdies in seven holes.

However, he could not get going in the third round and found himself one-over at the turn. But a much better back nine gave him a third-round 68 and three-day tally of 19-under 197.

Frenchman Alex Levy had a hole in one at the fourth en route to a 65, and he is tied third at 17 under par with South African youngster Haydn Porteous, who also shot 65. England's Andy Sullivan made a big move with a 63 to rise to fifth place at 200.

Li made four birdies on either half of the golf course and never looked in trouble because of his impressive ball-striking. Even when he was not hitting it close, his short game saved him on a couple of occasions, including a good up-and-down on the 14th hole.

"Played really solid. Especially had a couple up-and-downs and was quite happy to shoot eight-under on this course," said Li, who will become the first male Chinese player to crack the top 50 in the world rankings if he goes on to win.

"I just wanted to play by myself and play my game. I thought if I just stayed patient, I will play good. So just did that all day."

McIlroy, winner of the tournament in 2009 and 2015, is looking to become the second three-time champion here after Ernie Els.

A couple of loose drives resulted in a par on the par-5 third hole and a bogey on the par-4 eighth, and there was another dropped shot on the par-3 fourth hole.

But the world number 11, who made a comeback to competitive golf after more than 100 days out last week in Abu Dhabi, fought back on the back nine.

"Hopefully that's the bad one out of the way. I didn't get off to too bad a start, just a couple of loose ones. Missed a short one on the fourth and made bogey on eighth," said McIlroy.

"That wasn't too good. But to come back with a 5-under back nine was good. It was good to knock that birdie in at the last and stay within one of Li.

"I'll probably need to play a bit better tomorrow to win, but you know, it's two weeks into the season and I've given myself a second chance to win a tournament. Looking forward to tomorrow."

Levy aced the par-3 fourth hole and made five consecutive birdies from the ninth hole in his 65, while Porteous closed with three birdies in his last three holes.

Pos.
Player
Nat
To Par
R1
R2
R3
Total
1
Haotong Li
CHN
-20
66
66
64
196
2
Rory McIlroy
NIR
-19
65
64
68
197
T3
Alexander Levy
FRA
-17
67
67
65
199
T3
Haydn Porteous
RSA
-17
66
68
65
199
5
Andy Sullivan
ENG
-16
67
70
63
200
6
David Horsey
ENG
-15
63
70
68
201
T7
Branden Grace
RSA
-14
68
65
69
202
T7
Chris Paisley
ENG
-14
65
69
68
202
T7
David Lipsky
USA
-14
69
66
67
202
T7
Dylan Frittelli
RSA
-14
69
67
66
202
T7
Jeung-Hun Wang
KOR
-14
69
66
67
202
T7
Rafael Cabrera Bello
ESP
-14
69
69
64
202
T7
Thorbjorn Olesen
DEN
-14
67
68
67
202
T7
Tyrrell Hatton
ENG
-14
64
72
66
202

Round 2 - Donaldson retains clubhouse lead as play suspended

January 26, 2018

Jamie Donaldson overcame a frustrating fog-enduced delayed start to add a three-under par 69 to his overnight 62 and retain the clubhouse lead in the incomplete Dubai Desert Classic second round on Friday.

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Start of play in the morning was delayed by two hours and 50 minutes, but that did not seem to affect the 42-year-old Welshman, who followed up a low round with a solid 69 to tally 13-under par for his two rounds and lead by one shot over China’s Li Haotong (66).

None of the players in the afternoon session were able to finish their second round.

Among those on the course were Rory McIlroy (10-under par after 11 holes), defending champion Sergio Garcia (six-under after 11), world No10 Henrik Stenson (seven-under after 11) and Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood (five-under after 10).

South Africa's Branden Grace (65) was in third place at 11-under par 133.

Spain's 54-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez, already the oldest champion on the European Tour, shot a 68 despite a double bogey to join Thomas Aiken (67) at 10-under par.

Donaldson, who has not won on the European Tour since the Czech Masters in August 2014 and has dropped to 292nd in the world rankings, made four birdies and a solitary bogey on the par-3 11th hole.

He reflected: "I am quite happy with a 69. It was pretty solid again. Drove the ball well. Iron shots were good. Took the birdies generally when I hit it close enough. Could have played the par 5s maybe a little bit better."

Li made just one par on his back nine – the front nine of the golf course – and had 10 birdies in his round.

The pleasant surprise was the effort by Jimenez, who won this tournament in 2010 but nowadays concentrates mostly on the Seniors Tour.

The cigar-smoking Spaniard had a late double bogey – on the par-3 seventh (his 16th hole of the day after starting from 10th) – but that was his only blemish of the day.

"I always enjoy Dubai very much, with this beautiful weather and these conditions, and the golf course is one that I always like to play," said Jimenez, who is playing his 30th season on the European Tour.

"My game is nice. I hit it very nice, solid, and controlled the ball. That's what you need to do here. I’ve won here before and I feel like I can defend myself with my game on this golf course, and here we are."

The players will return to the course to finish their second round at 0330 GMT Saturday ahead of the third round.

Pos.
Player
Nat
Hole
To Par
R1
R2
Total
1
Jamie Donaldson
WAL
18
-13
62
69
131
2
Haotong Li
CHN
18
-12
66
66
132
T3
Branden Grace
RSA
18
-11
68
65
133
T3
Alexander Bjoerk
SWE
12
-11
65
-
65
T5
Miguel Angel Jimenez
ESP
18
-10
66
68
134
T5
Thomas Aiken
RSA
18
-10
67
67
134
T5
Rory McIlroy
NIR
11
-10
65
-
65
T8
Alejandro Canizares
ESP
18
-9
67
68
135
T8
Jeung-Hun Wang
KOR
18
-9
69
66
135
T8
Trevor Immelman
RSA
18
-9
69
66
135
T8
Chris Paisley
ENG
13
-9
65
-
65
T8
Lasse Jensen
DNK
13
-9
65
-
65
T8
David Horsey
ENG
7
-9
63
-
63

Round 1 - Jamie Donaldson takes Dubai lead with 10-under 62

January 25, 2018

Jamie Donaldson led the Dubai Desert Classic with a first round 10-under par 62 on Thursday with two-time winner Rory McIlroy three shots off the Welsh leader.

Embed from Getty Images

With hardly any wind at Emirates Golf Club, a slew of low scores were produced, none better than the 42-year-old Donaldson who has a one-shot lead over English duo David Horsey and Anthony Wall.

Another Englishman, Tyrrell Hatton, was fourth at 64, with the tournament’s headline act McIlroy among a group of five players tied fifth at seven-under par 65.

Spain's world number 8 Sergio Garcia, the defending champion, opened with a five-under par 67.

Last week's champion in Abu Dhabi and reigning European number one Tommy Fleetwood made 69 while world No10 Henrik Stenson submitted a card of 70 after a late double bogey.

Donaldson, who won in Abu Dhabi in 2013 and represented Europe in the 2014 Ryder Cup in Gleneagles as then world No23, has endured a disappointing couple of years which saw his world ranking slip to 292.

After starting from the 10th tee, Donaldson was bogey-free for his round with an eagle on the par-5 13th and moved to 11-under par after four birdies in a row from the fourth hole onwards.

With two holes to play, he had a shot at Ernie Els's 24-year-old course record of 61, and more importantly, a chance to shoot the first-ever 59 on the European Tour.

He almost holed his chip from the edge of the green for a birdie before settling for par on the eighth hole, and then closed with a bogey on the ninth after hitting his drive into the fairway bunker.

"I didn't know the course record. I was only thinking of 59, really. Probably shouldn’t really be thinking that. Should have been concentrating on hitting fairways and hitting greens, giving myself chances," said Donaldson, whose last of three wins on the European Tour came at the Czech Masters in August 2014.

"I don't know, I fancied it. Wasn't to be. I knew I had to chip that one in on the eighth. It was close. Didn't go in and that was it then.

"But I'm very happy with how I've played.

"59 is only a bonus, isn't it? It's icing on the cake. Everybody wants to shoot 59, but it’s something that is only if you're playing really good golf, and that’s gone now. Now, it's just a case of more of the same moving on."

McIlroy said the conditions were benign and he was glad to make the most of it.

"I don't think you could have got better conditions out there.

"The greens in the morning are perfect and there wasn't much wind for probably the first 12 or 13 holes. So you needed to take advantage of it. Thankfully I was able to do that,” said the world No.11.

"It was nice to get off to a good start that way and sort of put yourself right in contention in the tournament straightaway.

"That's honestly one of my goals this year. I feel like started off last year a little bit sort of 71, 70, instead of getting right into the thick of things from the start. So it's been nice to start the last couple weeks like that."

As many as 117 players in the field of 132 shot par or better.

Pos.
Player
Nat
To Par
R1
1
Jamie Donaldson
WAL
-10
62
T2
Anthony Wall
ENG
-9
63
T2
David Horsey
ENG
-9
63
4
Tyrrell Hatton
ENG
-8
64
T5
Alexander Bjoerk
SWE
-7
65
T5
Chris Paisley
ENG
-7
65
T5
Lasse Jensen
DNK
-7
65
T5
Rory McIlroy
NIR
-7
65
T5
Thomas Pieters
BEL
-7
65

Scores

Pos. Player Nat To Par R1 R2 R3 R4 Total
1 Haotong Li CHN -23 66 66 64 69 265
2 Rory McIlroy NIR -22 65 64 68 69 266
3 Tyrrell Hatton ENG -20 64 72 66 66 268
4 Alexander Levy FRA -19 67 67 65 70 269
5 Chris Paisley ENG -17 65 69 68 69 271
T6 Alexander Bjoerk SWE -16 65 68 70 69 272
T6 Andy Sullivan ENG -16 67 70 63 72 272
T6 Byeong-Hun An KOR -16 72 67 65 68 272
T6 Chris Hanson ENG -16 67 70 70 65 272
T6 David Lipsky USA -16 69 66 67 70 272
T6 Dylan Frittelli RSA -16 69 67 66 70 272
T6 Henrik Stenson SWE -16 70 64 70 68 272
T6 Ian Poulter ENG -16 68 70 65 69 272
T6 Jason Scrivener AUS -16 70 68 68 66 272
T6 Jeung-Hun Wang KOR -16 69 66 67 70 272
T6 Rafael Cabrera Bello ESP -16 69 69 64 70 272
T6 Richie Ramsay SCO -16 70 69 69 64 272
T6 Tommy Fleetwood ENG -16 69 69 66 68 272
T19 Haydn Porteous RSA -15 66 68 65 74 273
T19 Martin Kaymer GER -15 68 69 67 69 273
T19 Miguel Angel Jimenez ESP -15 66 68 69 70 273
T22 Adrian Otaegui ESP -14 70 69 69 66 274
T22 Alejandro Canizares ESP -14 67 68 70 69 274
T22 Anthony Wall ENG -14 63 73 72 66 274
T22 David Horsey ENG -14 63 70 68 73 274
T22 Dean Burmester RSA -14 67 69 69 69 274
T22 Sam Brazel AUS -14 68 70 68 68 274
T22 Thomas Detry BEL -14 68 66 69 71 274
T29 Andrew Dodt AUS -13 67 69 68 71 275
T29 Pat Perez USA -13 69 69 67 70 275
T29 Thorbjorn Olesen DEN -13 67 68 67 73 275
T32 Bernd Wiesberger AUT -12 67 70 70 69 276
T32 Maximilian Kieffer GER -12 70 68 68 70 276
T32 Sergio Garcia ESP -12 67 69 69 71 276
T32 Thomas Pieters BEL -12 65 74 70 67 276
T32 Trevor Immelman RSA -12 69 66 71 70 276
T37 Ashun Wu CHI -11 68 68 70 71 277
T37 Branden Grace RSA -11 68 65 69 75 277
T37 Brett Rumford AUS -11 68 70 66 73 277
T37 Gregory Havret FRA -11 70 68 67 72 277
T37 Lasse Jensen DNK -11 65 68 70 74 277
T37 Matt Wallace ENG -11 69 66 73 69 277
T37 Romain Wattel FRA -11 69 70 70 68 277
T37 Scott Hend AUS -11 71 66 68 72 277
T45 Andrew Johnston ENG -10 69 66 72 71 278
T45 Edoardo Molinari ITA -10 67 69 69 73 278
T45 Gavin Green MAS -10 70 68 71 69 278
T45 Jamie Donaldson WAL -10 62 69 75 72 278
T45 Nino Bertasio ITA -10 70 69 69 70 278
T45 Ross Fisher ENG -10 69 69 69 71 278
T51 Ashley Chesters ENG -9 70 69 67 73 279
T51 Kiradech Aphibarnrat THA -9 71 68 70 70 279
T51 Nicolas Colsaerts BEL -9 69 68 68 74 279
T51 Robert Karlsson SWE -9 69 70 68 72 279
T51 Scott Jamieson SCO -9 68 70 70 71 279
T51 Thomas Aiken RSA -9 67 67 69 76 279
T57 Matthew Southgate ENG -7 68 68 71 74 281
T57 Mikko Ilonen FIN -7 68 70 71 72 281
T57 Phachara Khongwatmai THA -7 68 71 71 71 281
T57 Stephen Gallacher SCO -7 71 68 71 71 281
T61 Lucas Bjerregaard DNK -6 71 68 70 73 282
T61 Mikko Korhonen FIN -6 68 71 70 73 282
T61 Shubhankar Sharma IND -6 69 69 71 73 282
64 Lee Slattery ENG -5 69 70 72 72 283
T65 Andres Romero ARG -4 70 67 70 77 284
T65 Daniel Im USA -4 68 71 72 73 284
67 Richard Sterne RSA -3 70 68 74 73 285
68 Todd Clements ENG -2 69 70 71 76 286
69 Daan Huizing NED Par 69 70 77 72 288
DSQ Matthieu Pavon FRA Par 71 68 74 - 213
CUT Connor Syme SCO -4 70 70 - - 140
CUT Daniel Brooks ENG -4 72 68 - - 140
CUT Ernie Els RSA -4 70 70 - - 140
CUT Graeme McDowell NIR -4 72 68 - - 140
CUT Henric Sturehed SWE -4 71 69 - - 140
CUT James Morrison ENG -4 72 68 - - 140
CUT Joost Luiten NED -4 71 69 - - 140
CUT Jorge Campillo ESP -4 70 70 - - 140
CUT Lee Westwood ENG -4 71 69 - - 140
CUT Louis Oosthuizen RSA -4 69 71 - - 140
CUT Matthew Fitzpatrick ENG -4 73 67 - - 140
CUT Michael Lorenzo-Vera FRA -4 69 71 - - 140
CUT Paul Dunne IRL -4 66 74 - - 140
CUT Paul Lawrie SCO -4 68 72 - - 140
CUT Richard Bland ENG -4 69 71 - - 140
CUT Sean Crocker USA -4 69 71 - - 140
CUT Alvaro Quiros ESP -3 74 67 - - 141
CUT Chris Wood ENG -3 71 70 - - 141
CUT Colin Montgomerie SCO -3 72 69 - - 141
CUT Darren Fichardt RSA -3 66 75 - - 141
CUT George Coetzee RSA -3 74 67 - - 141
CUT Gregory Bourdy FRA -3 69 72 - - 141
CUT Joakim Lagergren SWE -3 71 70 - - 141
CUT Renato Paratore ITA -3 69 72 - - 141
CUT Ricardo Melo Gouveia POR -3 72 69 - - 141
CUT Shiv Chawrasia IND -3 70 71 - - 141
CUT Thomas Bjorn DEN -3 71 70 - - 141
CUT Wade Ormsby AUS -3 72 69 - - 141
CUT Aaron Rai ENG -2 70 72 - - 142
CUT Benjamin Hebert FRA -2 74 68 - - 142
CUT Eddie Pepperell ENG -2 71 71 - - 142
CUT Jamie Elson ENG -2 68 74 - - 142
CUT Luke Joy ENG -2 71 71 - - 142
CUT Matteo Manassero ITA -2 69 73 - - 142
CUT Paul Waring ENG -2 73 69 - - 142
CUT Ryan Fox NZL -2 71 71 - - 142
CUT Thongchai Jaidee THA -2 70 72 - - 142
CUT Brandon Stone RSA -1 72 71 - - 143
CUT Hideto Tanihara JPN -1 72 71 - - 143
CUT Pablo Larrazabal ESP -1 70 73 - - 143
CUT Robert Rock ENG -1 70 73 - - 143
CUT Sam Horsfield ENG -1 71 72 - - 143
CUT Zander Lombard RSA -1 73 70 - - 143
CUT Marcel Siem GER Par 68 76 - - 144
CUT Soren Kjeldsen DEN Par 72 72 - - 144
CUT Ahmed Marjan MAR 1 74 71 - - 145
CUT Fabrizio Zanotti PAR 1 69 76 - - 145
CUT Jack Singh-Brar ENG 1 73 72 - - 145
CUT Marc Warren SCO 1 70 75 - - 145
CUT Austin Connelly CAN 2 72 74 - - 146
CUT Jason Norris AUS 2 69 77 - - 146
CUT Jordan Smith ENG 2 73 73 - - 146
CUT Marcus Fraser AUS 2 76 70 - - 146
CUT Callum Shinkwin ENG 3 75 72 - - 147
CUT Nacho Elvira ESP 3 69 78 - - 147
CUT Oliver Fisher ENG 3 70 77 - - 147
CUT Carlos Pigem ESP 4 72 76 - - 148
CUT Danny Willett ENG 4 77 71 - - 148
CUT Graeme Storm ENG 5 74 75 - - 149
CUT Soo-Min Lee KOR 5 72 77 - - 149
CUT Rayhan Thomas IND 6 73 77 - - 150
CUT Darren Clarke NIR 8 75 77 - - 152

Preview

DATES: January 25-28
SITE: Emirates GC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
PRIZE MONEY: $3,000,000

 




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