Sunday 18 February 2018

World No 3 slot offers 'consolation' for McIlroy

Bernie McGuire, At Hilversum

Rory McIlroy reluctantly accepted moving to a career best of World No 3 as a "consolation" after finishing third in the KLM Open in Holland.

McIlroy birdied three holes in succession early on but failed to capitalise before also birdieing his closing two holes in a final-round 67 for a 10-under-par tally on the rain-sodden Hilversum course.

England's Simon Dyson claimed his second Race to Dubai victory in six events -- after winning July's Irish Open -- courtesy of a 66 for a 12-under-par total, one clear of compatriot David Lynn (68).

It is also Dyson's third KLM Open success in six years and he joins two of the greats of European Tour golf, Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer, on three Dutch wins. "I am absolutely delighted to have my name on the same trophy as Seve and Bernhard, and it's a dream come true," said Dyson. "To win any title once is very tough but to win the same title three times is a fantastic feeling.

"I've played some good golf the last few months but I didn't think two wins would come so quickly together."

McIlroy has replaced Martin Kaymer as No 3 in the world after the defending KLM Open champion missed the Dutch cut.

Kaymer will wake this morning to find himself down to sixth as the American pair of Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson moved to fourth and fifth respectively despite there being no event on the PGA Tour.

Bizarrely, while Padraig Harrington has made a habit of finishing second, McIlroy's third placing is his 10th such finish since finishing third four years ago at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship helped him earn his Tour card.

"Finishing third this week is a consolation more than anything, and it's nice to have two thirds in a row because going into last week I wanted to improve my world ranking and I've managed to do that," said McIlroy.

"But my competitive spirit is such that I would rather have gone to third in the world by winning this week. If I were to close out these tournaments, I would go to No 3 in the world or No 2 but I just haven't been able to manage that these two weeks."

A fierce 45-minute electrical storm late on Saturday meant more delays to the start of yesterday's earlier final round. It gave McIlroy (right) some extra shut-eye after he had been up late trying to catch TV coverage of girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, who eventually lost her US Open tennis semi-final to Serena Williams.

The young Ulsterman has a fortnight's break from competition before his next event, the September 29-starting Alfred Dunhill Links, where his father Gerry will again partner him.

In contrast, Paul McGinley will arrive in Paris tomorrow to finalise preparations for his Britain & Ireland team's defence of the Seve Trophy.

After posting a third-round 64, McGinley began the final round two from the lead but his only joy was holing a six-footer at the last for his sole birdie in a round of 71 for a share of sixth at seven-under par.

It was McGinley's first top-10 finish this year but, like McIlroy, McGinley was expecting more given his lofty position with a round to play.

"After all the fun and games of Saturday when I made an eagle and eight birdies, I had to wait 18 holes today for a first birdie," said McGinley. "But I've got no excuses. I just played average and a 71 was a fair reflection."

Irish Independent

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