Li edges McIlroy for Dubai victory

Erica Murray
January 29, 2018

McIlroy finished on 22 under a shot behind the victor in a record-breaking battling final round.

The Northern Irishman had hit the ground running on his comeback with a tied third at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. He played very well on the way in, birdieing three of the last four.

"Especially the first few holes, I was quite nervous", said Li, the overnight leader.

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.

"Birdieing 10 and going two ahead there with Li making bogey, I thought I was obviously in the driver's seat", McIlroy said in an interview with the European Tour.

The world No 60 bounced back from a bogey at the 12th to birdie the next and holed a putt from off the 15th green to close the gap on McIlroy, before securing victory with back-to-back gains over the final two holes. "Then the 3-putt on 13, those were the two key holes of the tournament, really, even though there was a bad tee shot on 16".

Like McIlroy said later that he tried his best and had to make Li win it in the end, not gift it to him on a platter. I was only two or one behind, so I just want to keep putting myself in a position and just not get too far away.

"I just didn't realise I could make that putt on 15".

"The competitor in me is very disappointed right now", said the 28-year-old, victor here in 2009 and 2015.

"I wanted to win".

"It's definitely hard to take right now, that's how I'm feeling, but if someone had of told me at the start of the year you'd finish third and second your first two events, I'd say, yeah, I'd take that".

England's Tyrrell Hatton briefly threatened to join the party with four birdies in six holes starting from the ninth, but he finished on 20-under after missing a birdie putt from four feet on the 17th and then hitting his second shot into the water on the 18th hole. "I'm looking forward to my first Masters".

Turkish Airlines flies 5 times a week from Edinburgh to Dubai via Istanbul starting from £350 including taxes and golf clubs fly for free in addition to a 40kg baggage allowance as standard (50kg in business).

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