Magnificent McIlroy holds off Reed to win Dubai Desert Classic

By Sports Desk January 30, 2023

Rory McIlroy birdied the last hole of a thrilling final round to hold off Patrick Reed and win the Dubai Desert Classic for a third time on Monday.

In a tournament that finished a day later than scheduled due to poor weather last Thursday and Friday, the world number one got himself out of a spot of bother on the 18th to start the year with a maiden Rolex Series victory

American Reed threw a tee in McIlroy's direction at Emirates Golf Club last week after being snubbed for a handshake following a dispute between the pair, but the Northern Irishman held his nerve to avoid throwing away his lead as the tension mounted during the last round.

LIV Golf star Reed was involved in more controversy on Sunday when he took an unplayable penalty drop after his ball got lodged in a tree, with question marks raised over whether it was in fact his ball he had identified by using binoculars.

McIlroy took a three-shot advantage into the final round, but Texan Reed carded a seven-under 65 and birdied the last hole to ramp up the pressure on the four-time major champion.

A tee shot that held up precariously close to the water left McIlroy with work to do at 18 and he had to wait for his second shot while Reed was coming close to an eagle three up in front of him before sinking a short birdie putt.

McIlroy laid up short of the water before showing his class to land his third shot 15 feet from the pin and duly avoided a play-off by draining a brilliant putt for the win.

A closing four-under 68 was enough for the 33-year-old to get the job done, finishing with back-to-back birdies to end the tournament on 19 under – beating Reed by one shot.

McIlroy had made his only bogey of the week at 15, but put that behind him to finish with a flourish following a steady start – adding to the Dubai Desert Classic victories he celebrated in 2009 and 2015.

Reed went out in 32 following three gains and maintained his momentum with an eagle-three at the 10th, then a further two birdies at 11 and 13.

He dropped a shot at 16 and a birdie at the last proved to be in vain as he fell just short.

Lucas Herbert finished strongly with a 66 to take third place, three adrift of McIlroy, with Callum Shinkwin fourth at 15 under and Julien Brun a further stroke back. Ian Poulter double-bogeyed the last and had to settle for joint-sixth along with Thomas Pieters following a closing two-under 70.

Related items

  • Scottie Scheffler issues warning to rivals after claiming second Masters title Scottie Scheffler issues warning to rivals after claiming second Masters title

    Scottie Scheffler warned his rivals he has no plans to take his eye off the ball after securing his second Masters title in three years.

    Scheffler carded a closing 68 at Augusta National to finish four shots ahead of Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg and has now won three of his last four events and finished runner-up in the other.

    The world number one’s thoughts immediately turned to getting home as soon as possible to his wife Meredith, who is pregnant with their first child, but he also intends to keep challenging for the game’s biggest titles.

    “I’m coming home, I’ll be home as quick as I can,” Scheffler said when asked if he had a message for his wife.

    “I wish I could soak this in a little bit more but all I can think about is getting home. It’s a very, very special time for both of us.

    “I can’t put into words what it means to win this tournament again and really can’t put into words what it’s going to be like to be a father for the first time.

    “I definitely will enjoy the birth of my first child, and my priorities will change very soon, so golf will be fourth in line, but I still love competing.

    “I don’t plan on taking my eye off the ball any time soon.”

    Aberg threatened to become the first player to win the Masters on their debut since 1979 when he held a share of the lead following a birdie on the ninth, only to run up a double bogey on the 11th after pulling his approach into the water.

    The 24-year-old responded superbly and birdied the 13th and 14th to keep the pressure on, only for Scheffler to pick up shots on the same holes.

    “I think there’s a lot of things that we did very well this week, especially today, because I came out and I was very nervous, obviously,” Aberg, who only turned professional 10 months ago, said.

    “I was shaking a little bit on the first tee. Those are all things that I really enjoy doing. We said that it’s a privilege to be able to hit all these shots out here, and it’s a privilege to be in this position.

    “Obviously we knew that hitting it in the water on 11 wasn’t ideal, but we also just kept playing. That’s what me and my caddie Joe [Skovron] and our team has been trying to work on. Just keep playing no matter what happens.

    “I think we did that very well and it just showed that we stuck to what we did, and it ended up being pretty okay anyways.

    “It shows we’re doing a lot of good stuff, and obviously, finishing well in the Masters is a dream come true. Just playing here has been such a privilege, and I’m super proud of myself and the team and all the work that we’re doing.”

  • Masters day four: Scottie Scheffler issues warning after Augusta win Masters day four: Scottie Scheffler issues warning after Augusta win

    Scottie Scheffler warned his rivals he has no plans to take his eye off the ball after securing his second Masters title in three years.

    Scheffler carded a closing 68 at Augusta National to finish four shots ahead of Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg and has now won three of his last four events and finished runner-up in the other.

    The world number one’s thoughts immediately turned to getting home as soon as possible to his wife Meredith, who is pregnant with their first child, but he also intends to keep challenging for the game’s biggest titles.

    “I’m coming home; I’ll be home as quick as I can,” Scheffler said when asked if he had a message for his wife.

    “I wish I could soak this in a little bit more, but all I can think about is getting home. It’s a very, very special time for both of us.

    “I can’t put into words what it means to win this tournament again and really can’t put into words what it’s going to be like to be a father for the first time.

    “I definitely will enjoy the birth of my first child, and my priorities will change very soon, so golf will be fourth in line, but I still love competing.

    “I don’t plan on taking my eye off the ball any time soon.”

    Shot of the day

    Scheffler was tied for the lead with Collin Morikawa when he produced a brilliantly judged approach to the ninth to set up the second of three birdies in a row.

    Statistic of the day

    Top statistician Justin Ray highlights Scheffler’s superb form in 2024.

    Quote of the day

    “I’m coming home. I’ll be home as quick as I can” – Scheffler’s message to his wife Meredith, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

    Hardest hole

    For the first time all week, the 17th played as the hardest hole, a solitary birdie, 19 bogeys and three double bogeys leading to a scoring average of 4.40.

    Easiest hole

    The par-five second hole appeared to be played from a forward tee, and it was no surprise that it yielded four eagles, 27 birdies, and just four bogeys for a scoring average of 4.483.

    When is the next major?

    The 106th US PGA Championship will take place at Valhalla Golf Club, the scene of Rory McIlroy’s last major victory in 2014, from May 16-19.

  • Scottie Scheffler claims second Masters title in three years Scottie Scheffler claims second Masters title in three years

    Scottie Scheffler fully justified his status as pre-tournament favourite with a nerveless second Masters title in the space of three years at Augusta National.

    The world number one carded a closing 68 to finish 11 under par and four shots clear of Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg, with England’s Tommy Fleetwood, two-time major winner Collin Morikawa and Max Homa three strokes further back.

    Scheffler held his nerve as his rivals stumbled around Amen Corner and responded magnificently when Aberg kept the pressure on, the 24-year-old again demonstrating his enormous potential on his major debut.

    Aberg only turned professional in June last year, but quickly won on the DP World Tour, helped Europe regain the Ryder Cup in Rome – including a 9&7 win with Viktor Hovland over Scheffler and Brooks Koepka – and also tasted victory on the PGA Tour before the end of the season.

    Scheffler has been in equally brilliant form in 2024, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five shots and becoming the first player to secure back-to-back Players Championship titles seven days later.

    That meant the 27-year-old had been made favourite for the Masters at the the kind of odds previously only offered for peak-era Tiger Woods and he duly took a one-shot lead into the final round.

    A birdie on the third quickly doubled that advantage, but dropped shots on the fourth and seventh left Scheffler in a three-way tie for the lead with playing partner Morikawa and Aberg.

    Homa’s birdie on the eighth made it a four-way tie, but dramatic and decisive changes were just around the corner.

    Scheffler was inches away from spinning his approach to the ninth into the hole for an eagle and tapped in for the easiest of birdies, while Morikawa took two to escape from a greenside bunker to run up a double bogey.

    Scheffler also birdied the 10th and was gifted some welcome breathing space when Aberg pulled his second to the 11th into the water to card a costly double bogey, an error repeated minutes later by Morikawa.

    Scheffler failed to take full advantage as he also dropped a shot, but then saw another contender fall away as Homa was forced to take a penalty drop from bushes behind the 12th green.

    Aberg refused to throw in the towel and birdied the 13th and 14th to seemingly keep the pressure on, only for the unflappable Scheffler to birdie the same holes, his approach to the 14th spinning down to tap-in range.

    Another birdie on the 16th put the result beyond doubt and unlike in 2022, this time there would be no careless four putts on the 18th green.

    Woods had finished his round an hour before the final pairing of Scheffler and Morikawa teed off, his 100th round at the Masters beginning after enlisting the help of his son Charlie.

    Charlie was pictured seemingly giving his dad some swing tips on the practice range at Augusta National, advice even a 15-time major champion may have welcomed following a demoralising third round of 82.

    That was the 48-year-old’s worst score in the Masters by four shots and meant an early tee time on Sunday alongside Neal Shipley, the only amateur to make the cut.

    Woods started in style with a 360-yard drive on the par-five second to help set up a straightforward birdie, but ran up a triple bogey seven on the fifth and eventually signed for a 77 to finish last of the 60 players to make the cut.

    Woods had previously targeted playing one tournament a month this year, with the remaining majors – the US PGA, US Open and Open Championship – the obvious targets.

    “This is a golf course I knew going into it so I’ve got to do my homework going forward at Valhalla and Pinehurst and Troon, but that’s kind of the game-plan,” Woods said.

    “I heard there were some changes at the next couple of sites so I’ve got to get up there early and check them out.”

    Rory McIlroy carded a closing 73 to finish in a tie for 22nd on his 10th attempt to complete the career grand slam, with defending champion Jon Rahm a distant 45th following a final round of 76.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.