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Rory McIlroy | Hero Dubai Desert Classic

By The Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Rory McIlroy won the Dubai Desert Classic for a record fourth time after reeling in Cameron Young early in the final round then holding off Adrian Meronk down the back nine to seal a one-stroke victory on Sunday.

McIlroy closed with a 2-under 70 to retain the title at a tournament he has now won more than any other event in his career. Among his 38 wins as a professional, he had also won the Tour Championship and Wells Fargo Championship three times.

Young started Day 4 with a two-stroke lead but was trailing McIlroy — his playing partner in the final group — after making bogey at No. 6 for his second dropped shot of the round.

McIlroy opened up a lead of three shots by the turn after birdies at Nos. 8 and 9 but came under pressure from Meronk, who made four birdies on his back nine.

The world No. 2 walked down No. 18 leading by one shot — just like at last week’s Dubai Invitational, when he was beaten by Tommy Fleetwood — but this time he didn’t lose it as he closed with a par for 14-under par overall.

“It was one of those days where there wasn’t a ton of fireworks just because the course was so difficult,” said McIlroy, who made eight pars and a bogey on his back nine. “But I held on as best as I could and thankfully no one around the top of the leaderboard made much of a run.”

Meronk (71), recently crowned as the European tour’s player of the year for 2023, was alone in second place and Young, playing in Dubai for the first time, was third after shooting 74.

McIlroy broke a tie with South African great Ernie Els, who had also won the Dubai Desert Classic three times, and has started 2024 with a second and first.

“It’s a great platform to build from,” he said. “I know I’m playing good golf.

“A couple little things still to work on,” McIlroy added, “but these weeks are great. You learn a ton from them, and obviously, great to get the competition and come out on top as well.”

Check out “Watts” in Rory McIlroy’s bag below.

Driver: TaylorMade Qi10 (9 degrees) – Shaft: Fujikura Black 6 X

3-wood: TaylorMade Qi10 (15 degrees) – Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 8 X

5-wood: TaylorMade Qi10 (18 degrees) – Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 9 X

Irons: TaylorMade P760 (4), TaylorMade Rors Proto (5-9) – Shaft: Project X 7.0 (4-9)

Wedges: TaylorMade MG4 (46-09SB, 50-09SB, 54-11SB, 60-08LB) – Shafts: Project X 6.5, Project X 6.5 Wedge (60)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour X – Grip: SuperStroke Zenergy Pistol Tour

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x (#22)