McIlroy’s season ends on a high
RORY McIlroy hailed the best bogey of his career after surviving a dramatic lapse in concentration to win the DP World Tour Championship and claim the third Race to Dubai title in the last four years.
After starting the final round a shot behind Andy Sullivan, McIlroy carded eight birdies in the first 15 holes to surge into a two-shot lead with two holes to play, only to then find the water with a “horrendous” tee shot on the par-three 17th.
However, the four-time major winner holed from 30 feet to salvage a bogey and take a one-shot lead up the 18th, which proved just enough to secure his fourth win of an injury-hit year after Sullivan’s birdie attempt narrowly missed.
“It’s definitely the longest putt I’ve ever made for a bogey,” McIlroy said after a closing 66 saw him finish 21 under par at Jumeirah Golf Estates, one shot ahead of Sullivan with South African Branden Grace a distant third on 15 under. “I don’t think there’s been one that’s ever come at a better time, so definitely the best bogey of my career.
“On Thursday it was a similar yardage and I was in between a five and a six iron. I tried to hit a six iron off the back foot and left it out to the right. I tried to do the exact same thing today, hit the exact same shot. It was 40 yards off the line. It was just a horrendous golf shot.
“I guess if I had been tied playing the last, I would have backed myself with my length, but giving myself that one-shot cushion made a huge difference and I was able to just hang on.
“I’ve played really good golf this week, 13 under par at the weekend. I couldn’t think of a better way to finish the season so I’m really happy going into the Christmas break and looking forward to what’s in store for 2016.”
McIlroy missed three tournaments this summer, including the defence of his Open title at St Andrews, due to an ankle injury suffered playing football with friends and needed a controversial exemption to compete in the European Tour’s season finale after not playing enough events.
Nearest rival Danny Willett felt that gave McIlroy an unfair advantage but was unable to dislodge the four-time major winner from the top spot in the money list. It was a position McIlroy held since finishing fourth in the Masters before winning the WGC-Cadillac Match Play three weeks later.
Willett had to settle for a six-way tie for fourth on 13 under which included Italy’s Francesco Molinari, who recorded a hole-in-one on the sixth in a final round of 68.
“I guess if someone had said you’re going to finish fourth and see where that gets you, you might have taken it,” Willett said. “Unfortunately we are going to come up shy by one on the Race to Dubai but hopefully next year we’re in a similar position and can try and change the story.”