Rory McIlroy reckons he’s prepared to give it one last shot this season and close-off 2018 with a 64 on the final day of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
McIlroy had moved to 10-under par and only four shots from the lead with a birdie at the 15th hole on day three of the season-ending European Tour event.
That was before finding the water guarding the green at the par-3 17th and walking-off with a gut-wrenching double-bogey ‘5’ to drop back to eight-under par before eventually birding the last in a round of 71 for a nine-under par total
It leaves McIlroy trailing five shots behind the Masters winning leading duo of American Patrick Reed (67) and England’s Danny Willett (68) who head the field by a shot at 14-under par.
McIlroy seemed to be struggling from the outset in sending his 3-wood opening tee shot way right but managing to save par on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Estates before managing back-to-back birdies at the fifth and sixth holes.
He proceeded to par next six holes before a bogey on 13 ahead of finishing birdie. par, double-bogey and birdie.
“I wish I was a little bit closer to the lead but then I missed a couple opportunities coming in,” he said.
“The bogey on 13 was with a 6-iron in my hand and on 14, the par-5, and made par there. Good birdie on 15. Had a chance on 16 and then just a really bad swing on 17.
“I was thinking if I could have got to 12-under par, I’d have a really good chance going into tomorrow, but it is so bunched. There’s a lot of guys around the lead, and it’s just there’s so many guys between 9-under and 14-under that I’m going to need something special tomorrow to sort of get up there.”
McIlroy, with long-time coach Michael Bannon waiting outside the scorer’s hut, was asked what he would need, if he were to come from behind and win the DP World Tour Championship for a third time in his career.
“I think my lowest has been 65. I don’t think I went any lower around here but I’ve shot a lot of them, a lot of 65s and 66s,” he said.
“If I were to shoot 65 tomorrow, get to 16-under, it might hold up, especially with the conditions the way they are going to be. I just need to get off to a good start. I need to play the par 5s better, and if I can do that and just not make some of the silly mistakes I made today, who knows.
“I think even with the conditions, we’ve seen guys shoot 65 and 66s. I mean, 9, I’m thinking 17-under probably wins this tomorrow. So I need to go out there and shoot two 4-unders each nine and see how it goes.”
One thing though is certain, McIlroy is looking forward to a break from competition ahead of kick-starting 2019 for a first time in Hawaii at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
“I’m fine. I’m looking forward to taking a little bit of a break, but give it one last, final push tomorrow and try to shoot a low one and see what happens,” he said.
Of the other Irish in Dubai, Shane Lowry carded a moving day 69 which could have been so much better as the Clara man posted 6 birdies but doubled his 7th and lost further ground on the 12th. Lowry sits in a tie for 28th. It was a disappointing day for Paul Dunne as he posted a three-over-par 75 to drop back to 44th overall.