McIlroy finds positives despite regret over sloppy errors

Ronan MacNamara
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Rory McIlroy (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Rory McIlroy was left to rue some costly errors on Sunday and throughout the week as his bid for a winning start to 2024 came up agonisingly short at the Dubai Invitational.

Despite closing with a final round of   McIlroy was beaten by a shot by Tommy Fleetwood who birdied the last to complete a sudden turnaround.

The Holywood clubman found the water four times during the tournament including twice at the par-3 8th on Friday which cost him a quadruple bogey.

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He found the water twice in the final round, once with an iron off the tee before driving left into a hazard off the 18th tee when holding a one shot lead over Fleetwood and Thriston Lawrence.

“I think for the first week back out, it was a really positive week,” said McIlroy who will defend the Dubai Desert Classic next week.

“Looking back on today, you know, a tee shot in the water with an iron on the front nine, had that three-putt from three feet on the par 3, and then the water ball on the last.

“So you know, I think first week back out, I think you’re going to expect some of those sloppy mistakes, and unfortunately for me, those mistakes came at the wrong time today.

”But you know, I’ll reflect on it and learn from today, and there’s still a lot of good stuff in there. But just need to tidy up some of the edges, and if I do that, I feel good going into next week.”

It isn’t the first time the four time major champion has pulled a drive left on 18 while leading in a tournament but unlike the Wells Fargo with Keith Mitchell a few years ago, he didn’t get away with it.

”I tried to hit a tee shot on the last; I probably wanted to hit a different shot because that was what was most comfortable. But I tried to go with the shot that I feel like I should hit, and then I wanted to try to turn one over because it was the only way that I was going to be able to carry the bunker on the right, too. Just a bad swing at the end there.

“Then just a little sloppy, a lack of concentration with the tee shot on 6 in the water, and then the same thing with the putt on 13 or 14 as well. Just a couple little mental errors in there that hopefully I’ll clean up for next week.”

Fleetwood and McIlroy struck up a terrific partnership in the recent Ryder Cup and they were dubbed “Fleetwood Mac,” on Sunday they were solo acts with the Englishman coming out on top.

“I’m really happy for Tommy. He’s played some incredible golf over the last year without actually getting a win.

“So for him to get the win here, it’s great for him and it will do his confidence a world of good, and hopefully he kicks on from it.

“But yeah, it was a good battle out there and hopefully I have many more with him this year and for the years ahead.”

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