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McIlroy Ends Memorable Season in Style
Rory McIlroy closed out his 2012 with a bang. The 23-year-old Northern Irishman carded birdies on the final five holes to win the $8 million DP World Tour Championship in Dubai going away.
McIlroy, who had sewed up the money-list titles on both the PGA and European tours before the tournament started, took home an additional $1.33 million by closing with a 6-under 66 on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates to finish at 23-under 265, two shots ahead of a hard-charging Justin Rose and three in front of his 54-hole co-leader, Luke Donald (71), and South Africa's Charl Schwartzel (68).
The victory was McIlroy's fifth of the year; the others - including the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, the second major of his budding career - came in the U.S.
"It means a lot to me to win here in this fashion," said McIlroy, who solidified his position atop the World Golf Ranking with the victory.
Rose made a spectacular run at McIlroy, eventually taking the tournament lead at 21-under par while McIlroy was still completing the back nine. The 32-year-old Brit set a new course record - by two shots - with a 10-under 62. After opening with four birdies on the front side, Rose reeled off four more birdies and an eagle on the par-5 14th on the home half for a 6-under 30 to reach 267.
"I thought it was going to be good, to be honest," Rose said of his 72-hole total. "I caught a glimpse of the board walking to the 18th tee. I saw Rory had gone birdie, birdie and he's putting the squeeze on. But I knew that is what Rory does . . . He has a par-5 to play and 18 is no gimmie by any chance. But 16, 17 - not easy holes. It's one birdie for the playoff.
"But you know what Rory is capable of," added Rose. "Fair play to him for making all those birdies down the stretch."
McIlroy was well aware of Rose's surge. "I guess in a way Justin gave me the opportunity to win it in the way that I did. Seeing a target there and shooting at it definitely makes you get more focused."
McIlroy was certainly pleased with how his year played out. "This is a great tournament and this is a great way to end the European Tour season," he said. "I'm over the moon. There are so many strong players on the tour and there will continue to be a lot of strong players coming through on this tour."
He certainly had a year to remember with his five titles - the most by any player - as well as earning a total of $11,953,586. McIlroy also signed a new 10-year endorsement deal with Nike that's estimated to be worth $250 million during the life of the contract.
"I couldn't have wished for the season to end any better," said the Player of the Year on both the PGA and European tours.
After going the first three rounds without a bogey, Donald finally dropped two shots on Sunday. His three birdies weren't enough to keep pace with playing partner McIlroy.
Alone in sixth was South Africa's Branden Grace who, like McIlroy, was seeking his fifth title of the year this week. The 24-year-old Pretoria native shot a 68 to end up at 16-under 272. Another stroke back were Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee and Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who both had 68s.
Sergio Garcia fired his second 8-under 64 of the tournament. Unfortunately, the 32-year-old Spaniard also had two 73s for a T-9 finish with Sweden's Fredrik Andersson Hed (66), Ireland's Padraig Harrington (68), Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castanzo (68) and Welshman Jamie Donaldson (69).
The Nike deal will have McIlroy switching from his highly successful Titleist equipment to new clubs. When asked what he'd be doing with his old clubs, McIlroy quipped: "I may just keep them as a memento. I've got a few weeks to get into some new equipment. Even though 2012 has literally just ended, I'm excited for 2013 already."
For all the scores, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2012/tournamentid=2012092/leaderboard/index.html?showLeaderboard=Y.