With a target set at 12 under par, Rory McIlroy needed to play his final two holes in 1 under par to win the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic.
Rory, himself, was already at 12 under and the final two holes were a drivable par 4 and a reachable par 5. A third career DDC title (2009, 2015) wasn’t a certainty, but the odds were in McIlroy’s favor as those in front of him had easily handled the finishing pair.
Viktor Hovland drove the 17th green and made eagle. He also birdied the 18th. Richard Bland finished birdie-birdie to join the Norwegian in the clubhouse lead.
Full-field scores from the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic
While they prepped and hoped for a playoff, McIlroy made it possible and made it happen without him.
It began with a wild drive to the left at the 359-yard, par-4 17th. After convincing his caddie, Harry Diamond, that he could hack out of the junk and still get up and down for par, McIlroy followed through with his promise. He put his second shot into the greenside rough and hit a brilliant pitch to near tap-in range.
McIlroy remained tied for the lead, entering the 564-yard, par-5 closer. After opting for 3-wood off the tee, he had 267 yards, from the fairway, and went with 3-wood again. This time, his ball sliced to the right and into the water hazard.
He did give himself a chance to make par and make it a three-way playoff, but his 15-foot effort lipped out. He finished solo third after a 1-under 71. Hovland eventually defeated Bland with a birdie on the first extra hole.
This is the second time in the last two months that McIlroy has faded down the stretch in Dubai. He bogeyed three of his final four holes to fall short in November’s DP World Tour Championship.