Teenager McIlroy comes of age in Dubai

The coming of Rory McIlroy is complete. The teenager has been talked about as the next big thing in European golf and the 19-year-old has duly delivered.

The Northern Irish star won his first professional title when he lifted the Dubai Desert Classic crown, beating England’s Justin Rose by one stroke.

His victory brings the curtain down on a colourful three weeks in the Middle East, which was the Gulf Swing part of the European Tour’s 2009 Race to Dubai.

Nerves, however, almost saw him squander the title after he led by six strokes with six holes remaining. Three bogeys, after four straight birdies, meant McIlroy needed to stay calm on the final hole. He said in a Tour website article:

“You see guys coming down the stretch with a four or five shot lead, and you think it’s easy but it’s not. You still have to play the shots, and you still have to hole the putts. It was nice to just hold it together on the last and get a great up and down for the victory.”

McIlroy closed with 70 to finish on 19-under-par 269 for the tournament. Rose’s final round of 67 was good enough for 270.

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who bases himself in Dubai, fired 67 as well for 271 while Paul Casey (68), Robert Karlsson (65) and Martin Kaymer (67) were tied for fourth on 272.

Because of his victory, McIlory moves up to 16th in the world rankings. He is also the seventh youngest winner on the European Tour and climbs to second in the Race to Dubai.

On the PGA Tour, Kenny Perry proved that his three victories last year were no fluke as he won the FBR Open in Scottsdale, Arizona in a play-off victory over Charley Hoffman.

Perry and Hoffman battled over three extra holes before he holed a 22-foot putt for victory.

Perry, 48, scored a two-under-par on the final day for a total of 14-under-par 270. Hoffman closed with a 67 to match Perry’s tournament total but, despite a tough battle, was undone by his opponent’s heroics on the third extra hole.

Kevin Na finished on 68 to miss out on the play-off by one as he finished third. James Nitties and David Toms tied for third on 272, both scoring 68s in the fourth round.

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