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Dublin: 12°C Friday 14 May 2021
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Victory in Hong Kong keeps McIlroy's Dubai dream alive

The US Open champion holed from a greenside bunker at the last to secure a two-shot victory, boosting his slim chances of capturing this season’s Race to Dubai title.

McIlroy reacts to holing from a greenside bunker on the 18th.
McIlroy reacts to holing from a greenside bunker on the 18th.
Image: Vincent Yu/AP/Press Association Images

FOR THREE DAYS at the Hong Kong Open, Rory McIlroy laboured to do his imperious ball-striking justice.

Hindered, perhaps, by the weight of expectation heaped upon his shoulders– not only was the youngster the highest-ranked player in the field, victory would propel him to within striking distance of Luke Donald at the summit of the Race to Dubai ranking– the US Open champion struggled to assert his dominance, eventually falling into a share of the lead late on Saturday evening.

Today, however, McIlroy navigated Hong Kong GC’s eighteen holes with a freedom and aggression commensurate with his major-winning pedigree. The end product was a flawless five-under-par 65, enough for an aggregate total of 12-under-par and a two-shot victory over France’s Grégory Havret (who has been largely silent since placing second behind Graeme McDowell at the 2010 US Open).

Nowhere was the world number three’s ruthlessness more apparent than at the final hole, where after faltering with his approach shot, he conjured the most improbable of birdies from the base of a greenside bunker.

A fitting coda to the tournament, McIlroy’s closing flourish will only augment his already significant momentum heading into next week’s Dubai World Championship. If he’s to emerge from that tournament the holder of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai title, he’ll need both another dominant performance and for Luke Donald, the current World Number One, to finish lower than ninth.

Sweden’s Peter Hanson (-9) finished alone in third place, a shot ahead of a trio of players that included Ian Poulter and former US Amateur champion Richie Ramsay. Overnight leader Alvaro Quiros, who faded with a closing 73 finished alongside former USPGA champion Y.E. Yang and Kiradech Aphibarnrat in a tie for seventh.

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