Striding his final round fairways with the settled confidence of a seasoned champion, 25 year old Rory McIlroy never let it be a contest in picking up his 2nd OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic win at Emirates Golf Club.
His 2015 debut caps a run of form dating back to a June MC in his home Irish Open that has found him lifting trophies after 4 of 13 worldwide events. Two of those were Majors, The Open and The PGA, and this easy victory, dubbed the “Major of the Middle East” signals that he is poised to capture the career Grand Slam at The Masters, just 9 weeks away.
His 22 under this week matched the tournament record of 266 giving him a 3 stroke cushion over Swede Alexander Noren and 6 over Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, his Gleneagles teammate, co-holder of the record, and defending champion.
Frenchman Gary Stal confirmed he’s no fluke and Martin Kaymer showed no ill effects from his desert collapse in Abu Dhabi from 2 weeks ago – the two will share a laugh in the locker room after finishing 4th at 15 under. England’s Andy Sullivan, who played the first two days with McIlroy, will skip the laugh but take the money with his own T-4 finish.
Not that its been in doubt, but McIlroy is showing the world why he is the singular dominant force in golf. Though potential rivals have been suggested it is he, not they, answering the challenge. His recent run is proof. Frustrated at playing to only “80 to 85%” of his best while racking up four 2nd place finishes in his previous 5 starts, he needed a win and got it.
“I felt like I was finishing second every time I was teeing it up so it was time for a change.”
That’s the sort of confidence the golf world is used to see coming from Tiger Woods, who expected to win every tournament he entered. Now it comes from McIlroy. Showing a masterful awareness of his own game and how a tournament is unfolding, he cemented the win almost casually, walking it out to victory. Even after a bogey at the 7th, he shook it off with low gear birdies at 10 and 13. No one was going to pressure him today.
This win now widens the gap in the Official World Golf Rankings between Rory and Henrik Stenson to over 4 points. It hasn’t been since Woods was dominating that a world #1 has had such a large lead over his closest pursuer.
McIlroy may need it too since he will be taking a brief leave from golf, heading to Dublin to settle a legal dispute with his former management company Horizon Sports. No one knows how or when it will be decided, but soon after Augusta awaits. That he is balancing the long running distraction with top performance on course shows he has the game to return ready for his charge at history.