If left McIlroy trailing 10 shots behind England’s Danny Willett who ended a 953-day winless drought since capturing the 2016 Masters in shooting a closing round 68 for an 18-under par tally.
The duo of England’s Matt Wallace (68) and American Patrick Reed (70) shared second place at 16-under par.
After winning the European No. 1 crown in 2012 and again in 2014 and 2015, McIlroy closed his 2018 season finishing seventh on the money list.
“I shot eight-under the first two days and if I had of shot eight-under the next two, I would have been in a with a real chance of winning.
“It was just not great.”
The result ended a disappointing season for McIlroy despite having won early in the year in capturing the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“There has been very fine margins between shooting 71 yesterday and turning that into a 67 and then all of a sudden you in the final couple of groups, and you’re looking at a chance,” he said.
“The margins are so slim and this year I’ve just been on the wrong side of it but there’s been a lot of good in there. There’s been a lot consistent golf and I just haven’t turned some good opportunities into wins.
“Another year it could have been a different story and all of s sudden you have four or five wins and you are feeling really good about yourself.
“I have just got to keep doing what I have been doing and working on the right things. I have a few technical things to work on during the off-season and hopefully come back and start the season off on a positive note.”
McIlroy was asked if he needed to also work over the Christmas/New Year break on his mental outlook and laughed in responding: “After this season what I need is a brain transplant”.
McIlroy indicated he will spend the off-season tinkering on his game while he’s to be ‘Best Man’ at his caddie and friend Harry Diamond’s, wedding on December 8th at Gleneagles in Scotland.
The McIlroy’s have also been invited to the wedding of the European Tour’s first Mr. 59 Ollie Fisher at The Renaissance Club also next month.
“Yes, I’m best man at Harry’s wedding as he was my Best Man and we’re attending Ollie’s wedding and with both the next two weeks so I am going to go and work on my speeches,” he said also smiling.
Given the lateness in the UAE, McIlroy had missed the historic Ireland 16-9 victory over the All Blacks but was naturally delighted with the result.
“I was asleep and fell asleep 15-minutes into the Scotland-v- South Africa game,” he said.
“It sounded like it was a cracking match reading the reports this morning”,
And McIlroy was also delighted for Ryder Cup winning colleague, Francesco Molinari and the new European Tour No. 1 who also becomes the first Italian-born player to win the title.
“Francesco has been incredible, I have been on the receiving end of it at couple of times this year, at The Open and at Wentworth,” said McIlroy.
“Then at the Ryder Cup he was incredible. He’s been great. He’s the ultimate pro. He does everything the right way. He practices hard. He does the right things and he’s really concentrated a lot on the physical side like his diet and all that stuff.
“He’s, like I said, the ultimate pro. I always thought he may be capable of something like this as anytime I’ve played with him I didn’t know why he wasn’t winning more but he put it all together this year and he was very impressive.”
Shane Lowry carded a final round of one over par 72 to finish back in a tie for 30th and Paul Dunne finished his season by carding birdies at his final two holes to return a two under 70 and finish in a tie for 41st.