McIlroy signs off in style

25/11/2012 12:21:13
Race to Dubai Champion and DP World Tour Champion Rory McIlroy  (Getty Images)
Race to Dubai Champion and DP World Tour Champion Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy capped his remarkable 2012 season with victory at the DP World Tour Championship on a dramatic final day at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

The World Number One held off not only World Number Two and playing partner Luke Donald, but also Justin Rose - whose Earth Course record 62 had threatened to spoil the Northern Irishman’s lap of honour after a year in which he has won The Race to Dubai, the US PGA Championship and the money list in America.

McIlroy had found himself two behind as Ryder Cup teammate Rose put the finishing touches to a dazzling ten under par display, the lowest round of his European Tour career by two.

But the 23 year old, tied for the lead with second-ranked Donald overnight, was not to be denied and finished with five closing birdies.

He chipped close on the long 14th, pitched to three feet at the next, made a 20 footer on the 16th and went one ahead with a six foot putt on the short 17th.

Rose had done miraculously well to two-putt the par five last for birdie from around 100 feet, but McIlroy matched it to win by two; shooting 66 for 23 under.

By adding the title to his Race to Dubai crown McIlroy earned himself a combined €1,822,520 to set a new record for a single-season earnings with €5,519,117.

It was his fifth victory during a 2012 which included a second Major title - like the first by eight shots - and the same money list double on both sides of the Atlantic achieved by Donald last year.

After finding the water on the last Donald shared third place with South African Charl Schwartzel.

McIlroy summed up his day and his year in one word in Dubai tonight - "unbelievable".

"I saw Justin make a charge - I heard the cheers," he said, "but to finish like that was great.

"I could not have wished for any better. To back up 2011 with another Major and to be part of an unbelievable story at the Ryder Cup has made it an incredible year.

"But hopefully I can emulate it or do even better next year!"

“It’s an unbelievable feeling – I said I wanted to win both trophies this week and that is exactly what I’ve managed to do even though I didn’t get off to the best of starts with a bogey on the first.

“I knew I needed to do something special over the closing few holes - I really couldn’t have wished for a better ending.”

For McIlroy, victory in the final event of The European Tour season means he is the first player since Lee Westwood in 2009 to win both The Race to Dubai and the DP World Tour Championship in the same year.

“I made all the targets that I set for this year and I’m already looking forward to 2013,” added McIlroy. “Today I went out with a target of 22 under par, which I thought would be enough to win so making it to 23 (under par) gave me a bit of a cushion.”

Rose's compensation for second place in both the event and Race to Dubai was not only the €694,312 it brought him.

He is now up to a career-high fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking, knocking Lee Westwood out of the top four for the first time in three years.

The 32 year old also has the memory of perhaps the putt of the year - even if the 35 footer he sank against Mickelson on the 17th hole at The Ryder Cup wins "Shot of the Year" given the circumstances in which he came.

The one he faced from the back of the 18th green was, in his own words, "probably four Mickelsons, maybe five", but actually estimated at around 100 feet given the amount of break involved.

It looked to be stopping on the top of the ridge, but then trickled down to the side of the hole for the easiest of tap-in birdies.

"I knew it was hero or zero there," said the Englishman. "I was one roll away from looking like an idiot.

"I actually got goosebumps. I thought it was going to go in for a second."

Rose played the last six holes in six under with an eagle on the 14th and four birdies, but it was not enough.

Donald’s 71 including bogeys at the third and 12th after he had gone a remarkable 102 holes on the course without dropping a shot.

The day also contained holes-in-one from Stephen Gallacher at the fourth and Joost Luiten at the sixth and when Sergio Garcia eagled the last for the second time in three days it gave him what was then a course record-equalling 64.

Rose has now set a new mark, but McIlroy is the one everyone else must try to catch in the New Year.

Fifth place was enough for Oosthuizen to take third place in The Race to Dubai bonus pool, while Donald climbed to seventh in the final rankings.

Paul Lawrie grabbed the tenth and final share of the bonus pool by finishing in a tie for 14th, with Nicolas Colsaerts the unlucky man to miss out.