Rory McIlroy left frustrated by Dubai disappointment

Rory McIlroy left frustrated by Dubai disappointment

Javier Howell
January 29, 2018

Rory McIlroy bemoaned two costly holes after giving up a back-nine lead at the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday.

McIlroy, a two-time Dubai Desert Classic victor, held the 36-hole lead after completing his second round early Saturday.

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.

Beginning the day with a one-shot lead, Li lost his advantage by finding the sand twice on his way to an opening-hole bogey, as McIlroy recovered from a stray tee shot to save par.

There was that birdie-birdie finish as well, in the gathering breeze and on baked greens that made life much more hard than for the first three days.

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.

When a two-shot swing went in the 28-year-old's favour as he birdied the par-5 tenth and Li ran up a bogey after being forced to take a penalty drop from a bush, it looked as though McIlroy was destined to taste success just two events into his eagerly-awaited return following a three-month break.

A frustrated McIlroy said: "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".

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"But I tried until the very end, making two good birdies".

At the par five 10th, two majestic shots set up an easy two-putt birdie to Li's untidy bogey six.

"I made him win it in the end, which was all I could do". I was only two or one behind, so I just want to keep putting myself in a position and just not get too far away. Over the last four holes I hit some of the best shots of my life.

"If someone had told me at the start of the year, "you'd finish third and second your first two events", I'd say, "yeah, I'd take that", he added.

"This is incredible. I just didn't think I could make that putt on 15. I'm looking forward to my first Masters".

'My feeling right now is that I'm p****d off - sorry, ' he said. And also on 18, I didn't think I would make that one, either.

"I wanted to win".

England's Tyrrell Hatton was third, two shots behind McIlroy, after closing a with a blemish-free round of 66.