McIlroy ends season in winning style
DUBAI (AFP) –
In the season-ending championship of the European Tour at the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates, world No.1 McIlroy had fallen two shots behind the fast-charging Rose after a bogey on the 13th hole.
World No.7 Rose, who set a new course record with a bogey-free round of 10-under par 62, had set the clubhouse target of 21-under par 267.
But McIlroy easily moved ahead with a brilliant display of golf down the stretch, and after playing the final par-5 hole conservatively – he laid up with his second shot – he made his birdie putt from 12 feet to close with a round of six-under par 66.
McIlroy’s 23-under-par 265 total matched the lowest four-round aggregate in the four-year history of the tournament – set by Lee Westwood in 2009 – and he also matched the Englishman’s effort that year of winning both the Race to Dubai European Money List and the DP World Tour Championship in the same season.
It was the fifth win of the season for the reigning USPGA champion.
McIlroy had come into the tournament with an unassailable lead on top of the Race to Dubai. His earnings of 5,519,117 euros also beat the single year earnings record on the European Tour (5,323,400 euros by Luke Donald last year).
An elated McIlroy said: “I just wanted to finish the season the way I thought it deserved to be finished.
“I’ve played so well throughout the year, and I didn’t want to just let it tail off sort of timidly. I wanted to come here and finish in style. I was able to do it.
“Obviously going out today, myself and Luke were tied for the lead, and we both didn’t get off to the greatest of starts. And then Justin had that incredible back nine, shot 62, and I knew midway through the back nine I needed to do something special.
“Somehow summoned up the energy from somewhere to make five birdies in the last five holes. Just a great way to end this tournament, a great way to end the season, and I am already excited about 2013.
“It means a lot to me to win in this fashion, as well. I guess in a way, Justin gave me the opportunity to do what I did. I guess seeing a target there and shooting at something, it definitely makes you more focused.”
Rose, who went ahead with a birdie-eagle-birdie stretch from the 13th hole onwards, almost made a magical eagle putt from 70 feet, only to miss it by inches.
In hindsight, it would not have mattered, but it would have certainly put more pressure on McIlroy.
On his round of 62, Rose said: “That was a lot of fun. The front nine was just as good as the back nine, and the back nine putts started going in, which is a nice feeling. Just started to get refocussed, but obviously I knew I was playing my way into the lead.
“It was just important for me to keep positive, as well, to keep aggressive.
“But you know what Rory is capable of. Fair play to him for making all those birdies down the stretch.”
Donald, who had not made a bogey for 100 holes at the Earth course till the end of third round, made two on Sunday – the streak ended on the third hole – and could not get going.
He finished with a one-under par 71 to be tied third with 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.