Rory McIlroy savours superb comeback win for fourth Dubai Desert Classic title

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McIlroy trailed by 10 shots after two rounds but surged through the field on Saturday before finishing the job on Sunday.
Posted on
January 21, 2024
by
The Editorial Team in ,
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Rory McIlroy completed the best weekend comeback of his career to successfully defend his title and win a record fourth Dubai Desert Classic.

The Northern Irishman’s previous biggest recovery with two rounds to go was from five shots back at the 2015 BMW PGA Championship but having begun round three 10 adrift he closed out a one-stroke victory at the Emirates Golf Club.

Saturday’s 63 catapulted him into contention but there were far fewer fireworks in his final round and, while McIlroy escaped with some loose shots, rivals Cameron Young and Adrian Meronk were unable to exert any meaningful pressure.

“If the scores on the weekend had been flipped and I shot 70, 63, I’d probably be like ‘Yeah, that was amazing’,” said McIlroy, who finished 14 under.

“The course definitely played a little trickier at the weekend. After I finished on Friday I thought if I shot two 67s over the weekend I would have a decent chance to win, and if that had been the case I would have tied on 13 under.

“I wasn’t too far away with the prediction and I went one better than that and ended up winning the tournament.”

McIlroy, who now has a victory and a second place in his first two starts of the season, added: “I played that front nine so well that I didn’t really have to do anything that special on the back nine just to get the thing won.

Emirates Hero Dubai Desert Classic Golf
Rory McIlroy during his final round (Kamran Jebreili/AP)

“I got away with a couple of things: I didn’t make birdie on 10 and then I made the bogey on 13. Luckily for me the guys around me didn’t make a ton of birdies on the way in.

“I knew I always had one or two shots to play with so I think that gave me a certain level of comfort.”

McIlroy began the day two shots behind leader Young but his birdie after driving the 351-yard second, combined with the American’s bogeys at four and six, saw the advantage swing a stroke in the Northern Irishman’s favour.

And with Young not recording his first birdie until the 10th, Meronk emerged as his chief challenger – briefly sharing the lead before chipping across the seventh green and into the water for a double-bogey five.

Rory McIlroy tees off on 8th hole at the Dubai Desert Classic
McIlroy is the first player to win four Dubai Desert Classic titles (Kamran Jebreili/AP)

McIlroy extended his lead to three at the turn with successive birdies including from 31 feet on the eighth.

His only real moment of concern came with a first bogey in 38 holes at the 13th, where he could not escape from the waste area at the first attempt after taking an aggressive line and going too far left.

Meronk’s third birdie since the turn put him within one but then he bogeyed the 16th while McIlroy brilliantly salvaged par from the left waste area, meaning two closing pars were enough to secure his landmark win.

McIlroy’s positive start to 2024 will give him renewed optimism he can break his nine-year major drought, with the chance to complete a career Grand Slam first up at the Masters in April.

“Augusta is still a long way away in golfing terms. A lot can change in two and a half months,” he said.

“But it’s always nice nice to feel like you’re playing well going into it.

“I’ve still got some big events to come but until that first or second week in April at least a part of my mind is going to be towards getting myself absolutely ready for there.”

Pos.PlayerTo ParR1R2R3R4Total
1MCILROY, Rory-1471706370274
2MERONK, Adrian-1368667071275
3YOUNG, Cameron-1267647174276
4NIEMANN, Joaquin-1069726770278
COCKERILL, Aaron-1071677268278
LARRAZÁBAL, Pablo-1073697066278
7LI, Haotong-967716972279
SCOTT, Adam-969717069279
KAWAMURA, Masahiro-975637269279
HØJGAARD, Nicolai-968697369279
11HØJGAARD, Rasmus-867707073280
SHINKWIN, Callum-871687170280
THORBJORNSEN, Michael (AM)-872707068280
14FLEETWOOD, Tommy-669707073282
MCKIBBIN, Tom-672707070282
16FITZPATRICK, Alex-569707074283
SHARMA, Shubhankar-572717070283
LOMBARD, Zander-571677570283
VEERMAN, Johannes-571737267283
ROZNER, Antoine-575697267283
21OLESEN, Thorbjørn-468707175284
WIESBERGER, Bernd-474677172284
RAMSAY, Richie-469687671284
LUITEN, Joost-472727268284
25MANSELL, Richard-368707374285
TARRIO, Santiago-371707272285
LANGASQUE, Romain-371707272285
HUIZING, Daan-370737270285
LORENZO-VERA, Mike-372667770285
MIGLIOZZI, Guido-373687569285
31JAMIESON, Scott-269726976286
CABRERA BELLO, Rafa-270727074286
KIEFFER, Maximilian-273706974286
FOX, Ryan-275677074286
HATTON, Tyrrell-274687173286
GARCIA, Sebastian-268757172286
SVENSSON, Jesper-276687270286
38DEL REY, Alejandro-172687077287
WHITNELL, Dale-173697075287
SCHAPER, Jayden-173717370287
41KJELDSEN, SørenPar68746977288
SÖDERBERG, SebastianPar72697176288
JORDAN, MatthewPar71736975288
SMITH, JordanPar74677374288
FRITTELLI, DylanPar74707173288
WARING, PaulPar74677473288
HILL, CalumPar72717372288
ELVIRA, ManuelPar71697672288
JARVIS, CaseyPar72727371288
ELVIRA, NachoPar75697470288
51DU PLESSIS, Hennie+171687476289
FORREST, Grant+170717375289
SYME, Connor+174697274289
CLEMENTS, Todd+173707373289
HELLIGKILDE, Marcus+172707473289
56MORRISON, James+270727276290
DE JAGER, Louis+268707676290
NEMECZ, Lukas+269727475290
SIEM, Marcel+272677675290
OTAEGUI, Adrian+275697373290
KIMSEY, Nathan+274697572290
CAMPILLO, Jorge+274707571290
63DAFFUE, MJ+371717376291
BACHEM, Nick+373707375291
NØRGAARD, Niklas+373697673291
66GALLACHER, Stephen+473667380292
SULLIVAN, Andy+467677880292
WINTHER, Jeff+470747375292
DONALD, Luke+471717575292
70GUERRIER, Julien+673687677294
HARMAN, Brian+671717676294
COUSSAUD, Ugo+669737676294
KO, Jeong weon+669747774294
74GOUVEIA, Ricardo+874707676296
CUT
75SCHWAB, Matthias+17273--145
HOSHINO, Rikuya+17471--145
HIDALGO, Angel+17174--145
PAUL, Yannik+17471--145
MOLINARI, Francesco+17273--145
HANNA, Chase+17075--145
PAVAN, Andrea+17471--145
LAWRENCE, Thriston+17570--145
BALDWIN, Matthew+17273--145
SORDET, Clément+17174--145
PENGE, Marco+17768--145
86CANTER, Laurie+27373--146
WILSON, Oliver+27571--146
KINHULT, Marcus+27472--146
TWAY, Kevin+27274--146
SAMOOJA, Kalle+27373--146
MOLINARI, Edoardo+27274--146
HILLIER, Daniel+27769--146
SCRIVENER, Jason+27472--146
KOFSTAD, Espen+27571--146
95WIEBE, Gunner+37473--147
SCHNEIDER, Marcel+37275--147
FORSSTRÖM, Simon+37473--147
SOUTHGATE, Matthew+37473--147
CROCKER, Sean+37275--147
100BRADBURY, Dan+47276--148
SADDIER, Adrien+47474--148
VAILLANT, Tom+47573--148
ARNAUS, Adri+47573--148
CHAPPELL, Kevin+47573--148
MANASSERO, Matteo+47672--148
BJØRN, Thomas+47672--148
107ZANOTTI, Fabrizio+57574--149
KJETTRUP, Frederik (AM)+57376--149
109PEPPERELL, Eddie+67773--150
FERGUSON, Ewen+67476--150
GREEN, Gavin+67773--150
DONALDSON, Jamie+67278--150
BRUN, Julien+67971--150
FISHER, Ross+67575--150
SCALISE, Lorenzo+67674--150
116LAW, David+77477--151
ARMITAGE, Marcus+77675--151
LONG, Hurly+77972--151
BLOMME, Adam+77576--151
120HARRINGTON, Padraig+87379--152
BROWN, Daniel+87676--152
WU, Ashun+87874--152
123GRENVILLE-WOOD, Joshua+97578--153
124STRYDOM, Ockie+107579--154
125DANTORP, Jens+137978--157
126GAVINS, Daniel+188181--162
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The editorial team at Golf Today strives to provide readers with captivating content that celebrates the rich heritage and exciting developments in the world of golf. Their collective expertise and dedication ensure that Golf Today remains a premier destination for golf enthusiasts seeking the latest news, insightful analysis, and engaging stories from the world of golf.

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