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Magnificent McIlroy proves mettle

GOLF: Rory McIlroy feels his Hong Kong Open triumph shows he can now grind out victories, a vital quality if he is to reach number one in the world.

After shooting an opening 64, McIlroy struggled in his subsequent two rounds at Hong Kong Golf Club, feeling a recent hectic schedule as well as a bout of illness had left him drained.

But the 22-year-old returned to his usual high standards with a 65 on the final day to finish 12-under par and complete a two-shot victory over Gregory Havret that keeps alive his hopes of pipping Luke Donald to The Race to Dubai title.

"I sort of experienced the same thing in the Shanghai Masters this year, having to really fight for it," he said.


"I was one behind with four holes to go, drew level on 18 and won in the play-off. I played some of my best golf in Shanghai. I played very, very well.

"This week there's been glimpses of really, really good golf. On Friday and Saturday, I really did struggle and to be able to win golf tournaments when you're not playing your best is what the likes of Tiger did week in and week out when he was winning seven, eight, nine tournaments a year.


"That's something you're going to have to do if you want to be a great player. I feel as if I'm learning to do that and this is a great win.

"To come from behind and to draw level after nine holes and then to play very solid golf on the back nine and be able to close it out, it's something I probably haven't done before.

"It would be nice to walk up the last with a four-shot lead every time but that's just not going to happen. It was nice to finish it off like this."

McIlroy's recent itinerary has taken in the Korean Open, the China Golf Challenge that saw him play seven courses in seven days, the Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda, the Shanghai Masters, the World Cup on Hainan Island and then Hong Kong.

After switching management companies and admitting the travelling had taken its toll, McIlroy insisted next year would see him scale back his commitments.


"You definitely won't see me go on a stretch like I have done this year but that's nothing to do with my previous management company.

"That was me just wanting to play, just saying 'you know what, last part of the year I'm going to go and I'm going to play', that's what I wanted to do," he said. "So there's no one really to blame but myself in that regard and yeah, I'd love to come back to Hong Kong. This is one of my favourite tournaments of the year and I'll do all that I can to come back.

"It's a very nice complaint to have but it's been a lot of travelling. If I could do it again any differently, I would.

I'd take a few more breaks in this stretch and maybe not exert myself as much as I have."