McIlroy heads to long break pleased with 2016 season

Rory McIlroy heads into a 52-day competition break pleased with his season despite an indifferent defence of his DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

McIlroy posted a final round 65 for a 12-under par tally to share ninth place but it was his second poorest result in his eight years playing the event after ending 11th in 2012.

Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy (Credit: Turkish Airlines Open)

The four-time Major winner, who was looking to get back to No. 1 in the world with a repeat Dubai victory, ended his ninth season in the pro-ranks five shots adrift of England’s Matthew Fitztpatrick.

Fitzpatrick, 22, collected just his third European Tour title with a birdie at the last in a round of 67 for a 17-under par tally to deny fellow Brit Tyrrell Hatton who bogeyed the 72nd hole for a 68 and a second place finish on 16-under par.

Fitzpatrick, who had failed miserably in his Ryder Cup debut, collected a first prize cheque for €1,217,174 to finish 6th on the Race To Dubai.

As predicted, Henrik Stenson won his second Race To Dubai in four years in sharing ninth with McIlroy and finishing €413,874 ahead of Masters champion Danny Willett, who had lead the title chase from his Augusta National victory up until Stenson went past him recently in Shanghai.

Willett held onto second in the Race To Dubai even though he was well down in 50th place in the DP World event.

Among the first to congratulate Stenson was McIlroy, who was his Dubai final round playing partner, and singled out the Ulsterman as helping in capturing the Race To Dubai crown.

“Playing alongside Rory was very beneficial as he’s a very aggressive player and can make a lot of birdies and so he did,” he said.

“That helped me focus as we both had a good round of golf and we both finished high enough.”

McIlroy was leaving his clubs in his Dubai apartment ahead of travelling to New York to spend Thanksgiving with his fiancée and her parents before returning to Ireland for Christmas.

He will then head back to Dubai for serious testing of new equipment he will take into the 2017 season following Nike Golf’s decision from January 1st to withdraw from the golf equipment business.

“Thanksgiving in New York is next for me as it’s a a big deal in our household now,” he said.

“I’m then going to come back out here to Dubai for maybe eight or nine days in the middle of December to test some equipment, and then back home again for Christmas.”

“And then back out here on the 28th of December for New Years and then I’ll head down to South Africa for the South African Open at the start of next year.”

“I haven’t played in South Africa for a few years so I will be looking forward to starting my New Year there.”

McIlroy had teed-up in Dubai focused not on the Race To Dubai title but getting back to World No. 1 though that goal got washed out to sea with McIlroy admitting he was still in ‘beach holiday’ mood following an opening 75, and his worse score in 29 loops of the Earth Course.

However to his credit he was 15-under for his next three rounds.

“It was nice to shoot a good score out there and redeem myself a little bit,” he said.

“It was a very slow start this week. You know, the last two starts of the year for me have been slow starts, with China a few weeks ago, started slowly there, and if I had not of done that, I would have maybe had a chance, or half a chance.”

“And this week, if I had of shot something under par that first day, you never know. So I do rue a couple of bad starts, but after that, it was pretty good and played good golf.”

“At least I have that memory to take into the Christmas break.”

Looking back on 2016 McIlroy can be pleased with the following:-

Achievements

  • 1st – Irish Open, Deutsche Bank Championship, Tour Championship, 2016 FedEx Cup Champion
  • 3rd – Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, WGC – Cadillac Championship, French Open
  • 4th – WGC – Dell Match-Play, Wells Fargo Championship, Memorial, WGC – HSBC Champions
  • 5th – 145th Open Championship

Disappointments

  • T10th – US Masters
  • Missed Cut – US Open, PGA Championship
  • First taste of defeat in a Ryder Cup