McIl­roy reaps mas­sive pay­day af­ter Dubai dou­ble

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Rory McIl­roy won Dubai’s DP World Tour Cham­pi­onship yes­ter­day, over­haul­ing overnight leader Andy Sul­li­van with four birdies on the back nine to also be crowned Europe’s top money earner for a third year in four. McIl­roy carded a fi­nal round 66 to end with a 21-un­der ag­gre­gate score of 267, hav­ing be­gun the day on 15 un­der, a shot adrift of Eng­land’s Sul­li­van at the $8 mil­lion Euro­pean Tour’s sea­son fi­nale.

Play­ing part­ner Sul­li­van’s 68 left him on 268, one stroke short de­spite stretch­ing his ad­van­tage early on as McIl­roy seized con­trol midround with seven birdies in 11 holes. The four­time ma­jor win­ner could even af­ford to take a drop on the 17th af­ter find­ing the wa­ter, even­tu­ally re­cov­er­ing to make a 40-foot bo­gey be­fore seal­ing vic­tory with a 12-inch par putt on the fi­nal green. It’s prob­a­bly the long­est putt I’ve ever made for a bo­gey; I don’t think there’s been one that’s come at a bet­ter time, so definitely the best bo­gey of my ca­reer,” the North­ern Ir­ish­man told re­porters.

The vic­tory was his fourth of the year and first since May, McIl­roy hav­ing missed three tour­na­ments in­clud­ing the Bri­tish Open at St. An­drews af­ter rup­tur­ing an­kle lig­a­ments while play­ing soc­cer in July.

McIl­roy’s 12th tour ti­tle means the 26-yearold also re­tained the Race to Dubai, for­merly known as the Or­der of Merit and given to Europe’s top money earner. He was also vic­to­ri­ous in 2012 and 2014.

Sul­li­van start

Ahead of play, McIl­roy prac­ticed his putting un­til al­most the last mo­ment while Sul­li­van ca­su­ally waited on the open­ing tee. But the duo seemed at ease with each other, ami­ably chat­ting and jok­ing as they walked the first fair­way. Sul­li­van, ranked 53 in the world, sunk an eight­foot birdie on the first af­ter see­ing McIl­roy miss a 15-footer that ended just short.

Both birdied the sec­ond, Sul­li­van mov­ing to 18 un­der and McIl­roy two adrift on 16 un­der. On the par-three fourth, McIl­roy seemed per­turbed af­ter pulling his tee shot and al­though he re­cov­ered with an 80-foot putt to within four feet of the pin, he scuffed his next ef­fort for a bo­gey that gave Sul­li­van a three-stroke ad­van­tage. The duo again picked up shots with close range putts on hole five, McIl­roy’s the first of three suc­ces­sive birdies that lifted the world num­ber three to 18 un­der. Sul­li­van also birdied six but then bo­geyed eight - his first dropped shot in 22 holes - as his lead was re­duced to one stroke by the turn.

“I gave it ev­ery­thing on that front nine, I just couldn’t quite get the putts to drop on the back nine,” said Sul­li­van. “I didn’t really hit it close enough again, (but) to come up head-to-head with some­one of Rory’s qual­ity was ab­so­lutely awesome and some­thing that will stick with me for a long time.” McIl­roy took a lead he was not to re­lin­quish on 14, tap­ping in from two feet for a third birdie in four holes, al­though a bo­gey on 17 nar­rowed his lead to one stroke and gave Sul­li­van a fi­nal chance.

The English­man’s 20-foot birdie at­tempt on the 18th, which would have forced at least a play-off, rolled inches wide and McIl­roy then took two putts to seal vic­tory by a stroke. “If I hadn’t won to­day, I wouldn’t have been too happy,” said McIl­roy. “Andy had chances to make a couple of birdies and didn’t quite con­vert and I was able to just hang on.” South Africa’s Bran­den Grace (67) was third on 273, while com­pa­triot Charl Schwartzel (69) was one of six play­ers tied on 275.

—AP

DUBAI: Rory McIl­roy of North­ern Ire­land poses with the Race to Dubai tro­phy af­ter he won the fi­nal round of DP World Tour Cham­pi­onship golf tour­na­ment in Dubai, United Arab Emi­rates, yes­ter­day.

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