Section: Dubai Desert Classic

Dubai Desert Classic: McIlroy cruises to victory

World No.1 Rory McIlroy admitted he was looking for the solid rather than the spectacular as he won the Dubai Desert Classic for a second time.

The Northern Irishman won by three shots ahead of Alex Noren with a final round 70 securing his 10th European Tour title.

Six years ago, a teenage McIlroy captured his first professional title at the event and after coming close a couple of times since, the 25-year-old was delighted.

“It is always great coming back here, it is nice to put my name on trophy once again,” he said at the trophy presentation.

“I felt like I was finishing second every time I was teeing it up, so it was time for a change, obviously the only way I wanted to go was one better and thankfully I was able to do that today.

“I played very nicely all week. I did what I needed to do today to keep my nose in front and be able to win.

“I still get nervous, a little tentative, we’ve seen what can happen to big leads. I was making sure I wasn’t making any mistakes and to play a solid round.”

Noren, who played just two events in 2014 due to tendinitis in both wrists, finished second after an impressive six-under final round of 65 saw him leap up the leaderboard from eighth to finish on 19-under-par.

Noren was not thinking about victory at the start of the day and after missing so much time due to injury of late, the Swede was delighted with his showing.

“It was an amazing day, an amazing week,” Noren, who finished ninth at the Qatar Masters last week, told Sky Sports.

“I missed it so much it was really nice. I never, ever thought of winning. He [McIlroy] is playing so good, I was trying to get a nice finish. I just tried to keep making birdies and keep up with the other guys.”

Stephen Gallacher, who won the tournament both in 2013 and 2014, failed to replicate the form he showed on the first two days.

Gallacher finished with four birdies in the back nine, but dropped shots on the first and 14th meant he finished third on 16-under.

England’s Andy Sullivan failed to finish strongly with a bogey on 15 bringing an end to his challenge, while a dropped shot on the last meant he finished in fourth, with a two-under final round of 70.

Martin Kaymer was the day’s big mover as he closed with a final-round 64 to jump 30 places and finish level with Sullivan on 15-under.

France’s Gary Stal also finished in fifth after four-under on the final day, with Bernd Wiesberger also finishing 15-under. Morten Orum Madsen, who started the day in second, was left ruing a seven on the opening hole and two dropped shots on the back nine as he finished on 15-under.

Graeme McDowell closed with a 70 to finish 14 under par, good enough for ninth. But his countryman McIlroy never looked like losing control.

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Dubai Desert Classic: Rory McIlroy leads after sublime 64

World number one Rory McIlroy fired a sublime eight-under 64 to move to the top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the Dubai Desert Classic.

McIlroy carded eight birdies and missed several other chances as he took a one-shot lead over Scotland’s Marc Warren.

Warren led for much of the day after his 65 left him on 13 under but McIlroy finished with three straight birdies.

Graeme McDowell and England’s Seve Benson share third on 12 under with Lee Westwood among a group on 11 under.

McDowell matched Warren’s 65 with Benson carding a second successive 66 but the dominant feature on another glorious day of sunshine was McIlroy’s magnificent ball-striking.

The 25-year-old Northern Irishman reached the green with his drive on the 351-yard par-four second and picked up five shots in his opening 11 holes to move to 11 under.

His momentum was then halted as he missed three successive short birdie-putts from the 12th but his mini-wobble was emphatically ended by three closing birdies, which included an 18-foot effort at the last.

“I felt like I played very nicely. Couldn’t ask for much more; bogey-free, made birdies, and set myself up for a good run over the next couple of days,” said McIlroy of his round at the Emirates Club, where he recorded his first victory as a professional in 2009.

Read more at BBC Sport