China's rising star Li beats McIlroy to Dubai title

China's rising star Li beats McIlroy to Dubai title

China's rising star Li beats McIlroy to Dubai title

In fairness, Li ended up a worthy victor at Emirates Golf Club, where the 22-year-old birdied three out of the last four holes to close with a 69, setting a new tournament record for the event with an impressive 23-under-par 265 total.

The Northern Irishman, a two-time victor of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, had just watched his one-stroke lead disappear on the previous green, then sprayed right his third-last tee-shot of the week. McIlroy needs to win at Augusta National to complete a career grand slam.

McIlroy, victor of the tournament in 2009 and 2015, is looking to become the second three-time champion here after Ernie Els.

"I wanted to win".

I showed that even when I didn't have my best stuff today I was able to battle around and get in at a decent score.

"But being in the positions I've been in and having two close calls it's a little hard".

The pair's struggles spread, McIlroy bogeying 11 and Li dropping another shot at the next hole, but the Chinese found a spectacular second wind to pull clear.

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McIlroy's last win was in August 2016 at the Tour Championship, and he was impressed by Li. I think I wouldn't.the competitor in me is very disappointed right now. But I think with the greens being quite firm, I just need hit the ball in the fairway, something I didn't do in Abu Dhabi in the final round last week.

Saturday saw the completion of the delayed second round and round three, McIlroy moving into the 36 hole lead when completing his morning work and at that point was one ahead of Jamie Donaldson and two ahead of Li. McIlroy was again profligate with short iron in hand at the par-five 13th. I thought if I just stayed patient, I'll play good.

Li needed to take a penalty drop after finding a bush off the 10th tee and then duffed a chip from a bunker on his way to a birdie-six, as McIlroy posted a two-putt birdie to move two ahead.

"I kept leaving myself in places where I couldn't give it a run at the hole because they were downhill, down-grain, downwind", McIlroy said. Made him win it in the end, which was all I could do, and he played very well on the way in, birdieing three of the last four.

The world No 60 ended the week on 23 under and broke the tournament's 72-hole scoring record, as McIlroy let a two-shot advantage slip on the back nine to fall just short.

Jason Scrivener was the highest finishing Australian, claiming a share of sixth.

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