x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

McIlroy says ‘Anything that could go wrong did’ at Dubai Desert Classic

At the turn, the Northern Irishman shared the top spot with three others then three bogeys in four holes effectively ended his championship hopes, writes John McAuley.

Rory McIlroy, right, and his caddie J P Fitzgerald in the drop zone on the par three 7th hole during the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images
Rory McIlroy, right, and his caddie J P Fitzgerald in the drop zone on the par three 7th hole during the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images

DUBAI // For an insight into the capriciousness of golf, check out Rory McIlroy’s seventh Omega Dubai Desert Classic appearance. It was book ended by diametric opposites.

After all, it was only Thursday that the 2009 champion strongly indicated he would race away from the field, carding a blot-free 63 as drives were bombed long and straight, and wedges flicked close to pins. The putter also got hot.

However, then he ran cold. McIlroy had still done enough to begin the fourth round in the final pairing, alongside leader Stephen Gallacher, and even at the turn, the Northern Irishman shared top spot with three others. Then three bogeys in four holes effectively ended his championship hopes.

When the dust settled, McIlroy had posted his worst round of the week – a two-over 74 – to come home tied-ninth. Thursday seemed like the distant past.

“Just one of those days,” McIlroy said. “Anything that could go wrong did.”

The beginning of the back nine was particularly erroneous. The bogey on 10 may have been immediately rectified by birdie at 11, but dropped shots on each of the succeeding two holes derailed McIlroy’s challenge.

At 11, he had decided 16 under would be the trophy-clinching target, which turned out to be correct. Only thing was, it was Gallacher who reached it.

“I just wasn’t able to play well enough to get there,” said McIlroy, who found it so difficult reading greens that he eventually enlisted the help of JP, his caddie.

“I felt like everything I read was straight even though it wasn’t. I just couldn’t see.”

With vision impaired, the trophy disappeared from his view, too. Yet having witnessed up close the world No 6 through three rounds this week, Gallacher saw plenty of reason for optimism.

“His first round was unbelievable; I shot 66 and it felt like 75,” said the 2014 champion. “I’ve never played with anyone who flights it as good as him. I think he’ll soon be contending Tiger [Woods] for the No 1 spot.”

Volvo Golf Champions could return to Middle East

Four ago, the Desert Swing was a month-long affair, yet because of political unrest in Bahrain, the Volvo Golf Champions was relocated after 2011 and has been played in South Africa the past three years.

There were suggestions in Dubai on Sunday that a return to the Middle East is under discussion, possibly in Oman, which hosted a Challenge Tour event last year.

“It is common knowledge that the Volvo Golf Champions will continue to move around and the Middle East is definitely of interest,” said European Tour official Keith Waters. “However, there has been no decision yet on the location of next year’s event.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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