Sunday, 22 May 2016
Day 4 Highlights - Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

Rory McIlroy delighted the fans at The K Club as the home favourite overcame a stern challenge from Russell Knox to win the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation.

The Northern Irishman had spoken coming into the week of what a first professional win on Irish soil would mean to him and he fired a closing 69 to make it European Tour win number 13 in County Kildare.

The result is all the more impressive considering he had missed the cut at this event the last three seasons and he becomes the first home winner since Shane Lowry won as an amateur in 2009.

The four-time Major Championship winner came into the final round with a three-shot lead but was overtaken by Knox with three holes to play before two stunning approach shots gave him an birdie-par-eagle finish and a 12 under total.

That handed him a three-shot win over Knox and Bradley Dredge, who had made a final day surge of his own with a birdie-birdie finish in a 66.

McIlroy becomes the first player to win a European Tour event he has hosted and he will donate his winning prize of €666,660 to the Rory Foundation.

"I was trying to stay as relaxed as possible," he said. "Even when Russell birded 14 and 15, which are two of the toughest holes on the course, I knew that my length would be an advantage over the last  three holes.

"I told myself, 'I'm still in this, I still have chances'. I didn't quite think I'd end up with my three (on the 18th) but I thought I still had a chance so I stayed as patient as I possibly could. But when there's 30,000 people roaring you on, that's quite hard. It was absolutely incredible.

I don't know if I can put it into words. I don't really get emotional when I win but I was trying to hold back the tears there on the 18th green - Rory McIlroy

"Just looking up there and seeing all my friends and family and the support that I've had this week. To win in front of them, I don't get a chance to play in front my home fans very often so to play like that and to finish like that today, I'll never forget it.

"I'm excited. I kept saying I'm close and I felt that I needed a week like this to kick-start something and no better place than back here in Ireland to do it.

"Hopefully this is the catapult into another great summer."

Qualifying School graduate Matthew Southgate finished fourth at eight under to claim the best result of his career just ten months after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

The Englishman was in tears when he gained his card at PGA Catalunya Resort and there were similarly emotional scenes on the 18th in Ireland.

Welshman Dredge made the early move with birdies on the second, third and fourth before Knox reduced the lead to two with an eagle on the fourth from 20 feet as McIlroy birdied the same hole.

Another Knox birdie followed from 12 feet on the next and the Scotsman took a brave line to make a gain on the eighth just before a delay of an hour and nine minutes due to hailstorm.

Dredge got to seven under with a birdie on the 13th but it was Knox who was applying the major pressure and he rolled in from 20 feet on the 14th before hitting a brilliant second into the next to take a one-shot lead.

He found the bunker off the tee on the 16th, though, and when McIlroy hit a stunning 271-yard three wood to reach the green in two for a birdie, three putts from Knox resulted in a two-shot swing.

McIlroy saw a birdie putt agonisingly lip out on the 17th but his one-shot lead up the last became three as he put a 253-yard second shot to two feet for a tap-in eagle. 

Martin Kaymer fired a closing 65 to get to six under alongside fellow German Maximilian Kieffer and England's Tyrrell Hatton, with Rafa Cabrera Bello and Eddie Pepperell a further shot back.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MCILROY, RoryNIR18-12
T2DREDGE, BradleyWAL18-9
T2KNOX, RussellSCO18-9
4SOUTHGATE, MatthewENG18-8
T5KAYMER, MartinGER18-6
T5KIEFFER, MaximilianGER18-6

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