McIlroy barely hangs on for first European Tour win|
Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Sports Network) - It certainly wasn't pretty, but
19-year-old Rory McIlroy finally won his first European Tour event on Sunday
at the Dubai Desert Classic.
McIlroy nearly squandered a five-shot lead with four to play thanks to three
consecutive bogeys from the 15th. Luckily for McIlroy, he ended with a one-
stroke victory over Justin Rose to become the seventh-youngest winner in
European Tour history.
McIlroy shot a final-round, two-under 70 to come in at 19-under 269. Rose
fired a five-under 67 and lost by a single stroke at minus-18 at Emirates Golf
"I dug in deep and it was great to come out on top," said McIlroy, who ended
up with a wire-to-wire victory. "I've got that first win. Hopefully, onwards
and upwards from here."
Henrik Stenson, ranked seventh in the world, also shot a 67 on Sunday and took
third at 17-under 271.
Paul Casey (68), world No. 8 Robert Karlsson (65) and last year's runner-up
Martin Kaymer (67) shared fourth place at minus-16.
It was a long day at Emirates Golf Club.
Two lengthy fog delays at the beginning of play on Thursday and Friday set the
tournament back. The third round was completed on Sunday morning, then it was
back out for the final round.
Perhaps that's what plagued McIlroy down the stretch because early on, he
looked like he was going to cruise to victory No. 1.
He got off to a fantastic start in Sunday's final round with three straight
birdies out of the gate. That gave McIlroy a five-shot cushion, but a double-
bogey at five thanks to a missed two-footer and a bogey at eight dropped his
lead to two strokes.
That was all the wake-up call McIlroy needed.
He birdied the next five holes in a row and after a par at 14, found himself
five shots clear of the field.
Things fell apart quickly.
McIlroy bogeyed 15, 16 and 17. Rose birdied the 17th and suddenly it was a
one-shot lead for McIlroy with one hole to play.
Rose definitely had his chance. He missed a 15-footer to force at least a
playoff. That stayed above ground, but he was not out of it completely thanks
to an errant third from McIlroy.
The teenager's third landed in a greenside bunker and he blasted out to four
feet. That length of putt reminded him of his best chance of victory at last
year's European Masters.
On the 72nd hole of that event, McIlroy had inside four feet to win his first
title. He missed that putt, but had a chance for redemption, and that's what
McIlroy got. He converted the par putt to walk off with the nerve-wracking
"After that third shot on 18, I thought Switzerland all over again," said
McIlroy, referring to the site of the European Masters. "I composed myself,
hit a great trap shot and said to myself, 'this is just for par.' Knocked it
in the back of the hole."
McIlroy also lost a playoff at the Hong Kong Open in late November.
Miguel Angel Jimenez (66), runner-up the last two weeks Louis Oosthuizen (74),
Scott Strange (69) and Anthony Wall (69) shared seventh place at 13-under-par
World No. 2 Sergio Garcia carded a five-under 67 and tied for 11th at
Recently named European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie also shot a 67 in
the final round and finished knotted in 13th at 11-under 277.
02/01 09:18:32 ET