Rory McIlroy has been crowned January's Golfer of the Month presented by DP World after receiving 70.1 per cent of the public vote, following his dramatic victory at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic to claim his first Rolex Series title.
After the first two rounds were impacted by unusually heavy rainfall in the region, the then World Number One on the Official World Golf Ranking hit the front on Sunday with a seven-under-par 65 to hold a three-shot advantage heading into Monday's final round.
But in an enthralling finish to the tournament, McIlroy was pushed all the way by Patrick Reed, who started the day four strokes off the lead. After beginning the day with eight pars, McIlroy was caught at the top of the leaderboard when Reed almost holed his second shot for an albatross at the par-five tenth. The four-time Major Champion was one behind after a bogey at the par-three 15th but a wayward tee-shot led to a Reed bogey at the 16th and the duo were level again.
With the pressure on, McIlroy finished birdie-birdie – holing a left-to-right swinging putt from around 15 feet after fortunately avoiding water off the tee – to move level with Ernie Els as a three-time winner of the event. The victory lifted the Northern Irishman to second in the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex.
Second in the voting was Frenchman Victor Perez, who won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after producing late fireworks in the final round to overcome a high-class chasing pack and win his maiden Rolex Series title in dramatic fashion.
Perez held a narrow one-shot lead in the closing stages on Sunday afternoon before holing out from a bunker at the 17th for a birdie to stretch his advantage to two. Despite running into trouble at the 18th, a bogey there was enough to secure a one-shot win as he closed with a 66 to finish the tournament on 18 under par and secure a third DP World Tour title. The victory took Perez to the number one spot in the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex, while also giving his Ryder Cup chances a huge boost.
Francesco Molinari was third in the voting after leading Continental Europe to victory at the inaugural Hero Cup. Captain Molinari led from the front, securing 3.5 points as he went unbeaten across the week including an important point against Shane Lowry in the first singles match on Sunday. Molinari carried this form into the following week with a fifth-place finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.