Friday 24 February 2017

McIlroy anguish at costly slump

Bernie McGuire in Dubai

Eventual winner Alvaro Quiros from Spain looks for his ball on the eighth hole which got lodged in a palm tree. Photo: Getty Images
Eventual winner Alvaro Quiros from Spain looks for his ball on the eighth hole which got lodged in a palm tree. Photo: Getty Images

Affable Spaniard Alvaro Quiros produced a final round which mixed the sublime with the ridiculous to capture the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

The 28-year-old chipped in from off the green at the second hole for an eagle, took two unplayable penalty drops at the eighth -- the second after his ball came to rest nestled in a palm tree -- and then aced the 11th to win by one stroke with a last-day 68 and an 11-under-par tally.

But while there was joy for Quiros, it was a bitter end for Rory McIlroy who was seeking to end a two-year winless drought since taking the event in 2009.

He carded weekend rounds of 75 and 74 for an eventual share of 10th place at six-under par. "It was a very disappointing final day and to shoot a 74 was a tough pill to swallow," said McIlroy.

"Two top-10s in the Middle East Swing should be good in anyone's book so overall I have to be pleased."

Denmark's Anders Hansen (70) and South African James Kingston (67) shared second place on 10-under par. Tiger Woods failed to end a 14-month winless run ahead of the year's first WGC event in two weeks' time after taking a double at the last in his 75 for a share of 20th place at four-under-par.

In contrast, world No 21 Quiros, with five Tour titles to his credit, must now come into contention at the game's highest level.

"My target is now to improve in the Majors because I have only played eight times in the Majors but missed the cut in six, so I can't expect to win a Major doing that," he said.

Belfast's Michael Hoey will spend this week in the Seychelles on a delayed honeymoon with his new wife Bev, after a closing 73 for a share of 15th place at five-under par.

"I've had a good run over these four weeks capped by this week, so that will be nice to reflect on when I'm lying on the beach this week," said Hoey.

As a late wedding gift, Hoey's Dubai effort has seen him jump from 103rd to 66th on the money list.

Damien McGrane recorded a 70 for a level-par tally and was jetting to India for this week's Avantha Masters where he will be joined by Darren Clarke, who shot 75 for a one-over-par total.

Irish Independent

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