McIlroy ends run of near misses in fine style

Rory McIlroy throws his ball to the crowd.
Rory McIlroy throws his ball to the crowd.
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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.

“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,” said Noren, who finished ninth at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters last week.

“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 on 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.

Sheffield’s Danny Willett – in a strong position going into the weekend – faded after rounds of 70, 72 left him in a tie for 13th, nine shots back.

Graeme McDowell closed with a 70 to finish one better at 14 under par, good enough for ninth alongside Lee Westwood, who has called the decision for the Open Championship to move from terrestrial television to Sky Sports next year “an absolute disgrace”.

The former world No 1 was disappointed to hear that the game’s ruling body the R&A would announce a new deal in the next few days which would see Open coverage move on following a long relationship with the BBC.

The deal with the subscription network, according to reports in the Sunday Telegraph, would see Sky take over as exclusive live rights holders from 2016, with highlights to be shown on free-to-air television as stipulated by “crown jewels” legislation.

Westwood is worried that – with golf participation in sharp decline – the move will be a backwards step for the sport, a view which is shared by McDowell and McIlroy.

The 41-year-old who finished as runner-up at the 2010 Open, said: “I cannot believe the Open isn’t protected as one of the crown jewels – that is an absolute disgrace.

“It’s very disappointing, even though I can appreciate how much Sky have done for the European Tour, and how much they’ve done for the game of golf. But look at the viewing figures for Sky compared to the BBC and you have to question it when the number of golfers are dwindling.

“I wouldn’t have got into golf if it wasn’t for watching Nick Faldo win the Open in 1987.

“I would watch every minute of the coverage, and you want today’s kids to have the same opportunity. The BBC is doing golf no favours at all.”

Leeds’s Kiran Mitharu won the 2015 Hero-RCGC Women’s Pro Championship, in Kolkata, India.

Matharu carded a total of 221 to win the 500,000 Indian rupee event and overcame the challenge from Delhi youngster Vani Kapoor, who led going into the final round.