Li Comes From Behind to Beat Rory in Dubai

 

Li Haotong produced a final-round 3-under 69 to hold off Rory McIlroy and win his second European Tour title at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

The Chinese star entered the final day a shot clear of McIlroy but trailed by two after 12 holes as the four-time major winner looked on track for a third victory at Emirates Golf Club.

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Li, though, birdied four of his last six holes to sign for a closing 69 en route to a tournament-record 23-under par, one stroke ahead of the Northern Irishman, who finished the same six-hole stretch with two birdies against one bogey.

The stunning finish left McIlroy frustrated but cemented Li as a legitimate world-class player.

“I was quite nervous. The first hole I made bogey and got to come back really quick, which was good,” said Li.

“I think most of the time, only two or one behind, so I just want to keep pulling myself in a position and just don’t go too far away.

“The last four holes was some of the best shots in my life so far. Happy to see I can hold a trophy here. I’m looking forward to my first Masters.”

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With the win, Li becomes the first Chinese player to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Afterwards, McIlroy was angry with himself after surrendering a two-shot lead over the final six holes.

“From being two ahead standing on the 13th tee to being level going into 16, I just don’t know,” said McIlroy, who finished T3 last week in Abu Dhabi.

“But I tried until the very end, made two good birdies. 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.

“I just wish I could get a couple of those holes back.”

England’s Tyrrell Hatton closed with a 66 to finish solo-three at 20 under, a shot clear of Frenchman Alexander Levy (70) and three ahead of countryman Chris Paisley (69).

“It was a couple of bad shots, a couple of poor decisions, a couple of mental errors, a few tentative putts out there as well.

“I kept leaving myself in places where I couldn’t really give it a run at the hole because they were downhill, downgrain, downwind. So I didn’t really leave it in the best spots to be aggressive with my putts.

 

TOP 10: FINAL ROUND

1 Li Haotong -23
2 Rory McIlroy -22
3 Tyrrell Hatton -20
4 Alexander Levy -19
5 Chris Paisley -17
6 13 Players Tied -16


VIDEO: TWO CLUTCH SHOTS

 

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“The last four holes was some of the best shots in my life so far. Happy to see I can hold a trophy here. I’m looking forward to my first Masters.”
– Li Haotong

 

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