McIlroy wins first Rolex Series event, defeating Reed by one stroke

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Golf’s world number one Rory McIlroy got his season off to a winning start. McIlroy returned a final round 68 to edge out American Patrick Reed by one shot at the weather-hit Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai.

The Northern Irishman joins South Africa’s Ernie Els as the only three-time winner of the event. The world number one had a three-stroke cushion going into the final round. He made somewhat of a lackluster start at the Emirates Golf Club, with eight straight pars on his outward nine.

It was on the ninth and 10th holes where he made his move rolling in back-to-back birdies. He picked up another shot at the par five 13th, but the world number one bogeyed the par three 16th hole allowing Reed to briefly take the lead.

But he made up for it on his final two holes, again rolling in back-to-back birdies, after narrowly missing the water hazard on the 18th. He eventually signed for a 68 and a total of 269, 19 under par, enough for a one-stroke victory over the American.

Reed charged up the leader board with six birdies and an eagle on the par five 10th holes, finishing alone in second place on 18 under overall.

It’s McIlroy’s third victory in Dubai following his wins in 2009 and 2015, joining the Big Easy, four-time major winner Ernie Els, as the only three-time winners of the tournament event. It was also McIlroy’s first-ever triumph in a Rolex Series event on the DP World Tour.

“It was a battle all day. Honestly, it has been a battle all week. I really feel like I haven’t had my best all week, but I managed my game and played really smart. Even that second shot at the end there I was in two minds I thought I could get to the green obviously what happened yesterday and last year tried to give myself a wedge to the win ecstatic that I gave myself the first week back out I managed my game well and it’s a great start to the year,” says McIlroy.

The DP World Tour’s Desert Swing continues this week with the Ras al Khaimah Championship that starts on Thursday.