Watch as Rory McIlroy holds off nemesis Patrick Reed to win Dubai Desert Classic with 15-foot putt on 18th hole | The Sun
RORY McILROY carried his 2022 form over into his first event of 2023 by dramatically beating foe Patrick Reed to win the Dubai Desert Classic.
The world number one did so by sinking a 15-footer for birdie on 18, thereby ensuring there would be no play-off with the LIV Golf star.
There had been abnormally substantial rain at the Emirates Club over the weekend which had led to the course being flooded and the tournament running into a fifth day.
And it turned out to be more of a nail-biter than most expected as McIlroy faltered early on to let his overnight three-shot lead slip with Reed catching fire and briefly overtaking him.
The American had made an eagle as well as five birdies over his opening 13 holes to turn it into a straight shoot-out between the two men who had dominated the news cycle around the event through their 'Teegate' flashpoint.
But despite not being at his best, the four-time major winner regathered himself by making three birdies between the 9th and 14th holes.
Both men then dropped shots as a cinematic play-off became more and more of a realistic possibility.
But McIlroy wrapped it up in regulation by closing out with back to back birdies on 17 and 18 while Reed watched on from the clubhouse.
Afterwards, he admitted that the furore over tensions between them made this victory 'probably sweeter than it should be or needs to be'.
He said: “It was a battle all day, or this week in general, but I played really smart.
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"I was in two minds at the last, I probably could have went for the green, but gave myself a wedge and an opportunity.
"I managed my game well, lots of room for improvements, but I’m delighted.
“Mentally today, it would have been easy to let your emotions get in the way.
“This is probably sweeter than it should be or needs to be. A really good foundation for the year.”
With the win comes a pay cheque of $1.53m for the 33-year-old while Reed receives $990k for finishing as runner-up.
It's proven a particularly happy hunting ground for the Northern Irish star as that's the third time he's taken the title in the United Arab Emirates capital.
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