RORY McIlroy summed up his day and his year in one word in Dubai yesterday – “unbelievable”.
• World number one Rory McIlroy finished off with a course record 62
• This win in Dubai is the fifth victory for McIlroy in 2012.
Golf’s 23-year-old world No 1 finished his 2012 with five brilliant birdies to add the DP World Tour Championship to everything else he has achieved.
McIlroy needed something special after Justin Rose had produced something extraordinary – a 10 under par 62 that was not only a course record by two but also the lowest round of his
14-year European Tour career by two.
At one point, Rose had gone from six behind to two in front but McIlroy didn’t just get the better of his head-to-head with world No 2 Luke Donald, he got the better of Rose, too. When a
12-foot putt went in on the final green for his fifth successive birdie he had shot a third 66 of the week and, at 23-under-par, had won by two for a double worth more than £1.4million.
The tournament victory – his fifth of the year – earned him almost £840,000 – and for topping the European Tour money list, just as he did in America, he collected nearly £630,000. Not that such figures blow his mind any more. The USPGA champion was playing with Titleist clubs for the last time before switching in a deal with Nike worth a reported £156million over the next
He said: “I saw Justin make a charge – I heard the cheers – but to finish like that was great.
“I could not have wished for any
better. To back up 2011 with another major [like the first by an eight-shot margin] and to be part of an unbelievable story at the Ryder Cup has made it an incredible year. But, hopefully, I can emulate it or do even better next year!”
McIlroy started his burst to the line by chipping to three feet on the long 14th, pitched just as close at the next, then made a 20-foot effort on the
following green. That put him and Rose level and, with the par-5 18th,
McIlroy was favourite.
But he did not wait until then to go back in front, a 5-iron to the difficult 17th – over 200 yards into the wind over water – pulling up only six feet from the flag.
That gave McIlroy the comfort of being able to lay up on the last and to get down in a pitch-and-putt was only right and proper.
Rose’s compensation for second place in both the event and the money list race was not only the £968,000 it brought him. He is now up to a career-high fourth in the world, knocking Lee Westwood out of the top four for the first time in three years.
The 32 year old also has the memory of perhaps the putt of the year – even if the 35-footer he sank against Mickelson on the 17th hole at the Ryder Cup wins “Shot of the Year” given the circumstances in which it came. The one he faced from the back of the 18th green was, in his own words, “probably four Mickelsons, maybe five” but actually estimated at around 100 feet given the amount of break involved. It looked to be stopping on the top of the ridge but then trickled down to the side of the hole for the easiest of tap-in birdies.
“I knew it was hero or zero there,” said the Englishman. “I was one roll away from looking like an idiot. I actually got goosebumps. I thought it was going to go in for a second.”
Donald finished joint third with South African Charl Schwartzel, five strokes behind McIlroy, his 71 including bogeys at the third and 12th after he had gone a remarkable 102 holes on the course without dropping a shot.
The day also contained holes in one by Stephen Gallacher, at the fourth, and Dutchman Joost Luiten, at the sixth. It was the third ace of Gallacher’s career – all of them coming in Dubai. The
latest one helped the Scot close with a 66 to tie for 16th, finishing a shot
behind Scott Jamieson after he also signed off with a six-under effort.
Gallacher’s performance wasn’t quite enough to move him into the top 30 on the money-list and secure an exemption for next year’s Open at Muirfield.
He finished 35th, with pride of place among the Scottish contingent on the final money-list going to Paul Lawrie as he secured tenth spot – his best performance since finishing in the same position a decade ago.
Lawrie finished the year with earnings of £1,910,381, with Richie Ramsay earning one of those spots for Muirfield as he ended up 26th after also breaking through the £1m barrier. Gallacher, with £844,843, was followed by
Jamieson (53rd with £564,587), Marc Warren (55th with £552,905) and David Drysdale (58th with £496,672).
265 Rory McIlroy 66 67 66 66
267 Justin Rose 68 68 69 62
270 Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 68 67 67 68, Luke Donald 65 68 66 71
271 Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 67 67 68 69
272 Branden Grace (Rsa) 69 65 70 68
Others: 274 Sergio Garcia (Spa) 73 64 73 64. 275 Scott Jamieson 68 69 72 66. 276 Stephen Gallacher 68 70 72 66. 278 Richie Ramsay 67 68 73 70, Marc Warren 66 67 72 73. 284 David Drysdale 71 74 70 69, Paul Lawrie 71 72 70 71, Lee Westwood 67 74 71 72.
Leading final positions in the European Tour “Race to Dubai” money list
1 Rory McIlroy £4,445,925; 2 Justin Rose £3,035,589; 3 Louis Oosthuizen £2,567,581; 4 Peter Hanson £2,435,109; 5 Ian Poulter £2,079,331; 6 Branden Grace £2,015,889; 7 Luke Donald £1,912,004; 8 Francesco Molinari £1,784,477; 9 Graeme McDowell £1,566,840; 10 Paul Lawrie £1,538,907.