Rory McIlroy got the better of rival Patrick Reed to gain victory in a dramatic Dubai Desert Classic.
The World No. 1 birdied the last two holes to hit a four-under 68 and close on 19 under to win by one shot and claimed his first win of 2023.
The Northern Irishman began the final day, which got delayed until Monday due to weather conditions, four shots clear of Reed however, the American picked up six shots in his first 11 holes to decimate the advantage.
The 33-year-old countered by birdieing the next three holes but Reed came back once again, birdieing the par-five 18th to draw him level.
McIlroy required a birdie from the final hole to cement victory and avoid a playoff and he achieved exactly that, holding his nerve to roll home the 15-foot putt.
This victory means that McIlroy now joins Ernie Els as a three-time winner of the Dubai Desert Classic.
“It has been a battle all day, a battle all week,” McIlroy said speaking afterwards. “I feel I haven’t had my best but I have managed my game and played really smart. I am ecstatic. There is tons of room for improvement but it’s a great start to the year.”
“Mentally today, it was one of the toughest rounds I have had to play. It would be really easy to let your emotions get in the way but I just had to concentrate on myself and forget who was up there on the leaderboard [Patrick Reed]. I did that really well. I showed a lot of mental strength.”
“I will enjoy this. It is sweeter than it possibly needs to be or should be. I still have stuff to work on but it is a really good foundation to work on.”
Lucas Herbert of Australia, Callum Shinkwin of England and Julien Brun made up the top 5.
There was more spice included in this year’s competition following a tiff between McIlroy and Reed prior to the beginning of the tournament which has since been dubbed as ‘tee-gate’.
The next event on the DP World Tour is the Ras Al Khaimah Championship taking place at the Al Hamra Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates.