Late charge lifts Li Haotong past Rory McIlroy in Dubai Classic

Late charge lifts Li Haotong past Rory McIlroy in Dubai Classic

Metro Golf Notes Associated Press
image (AP Photos/Kamran Jebreili)
Li Haotong powers a drive on the third hole at Emirates Golf Club. The Chinese star birdied four of the final six holes to edge Rory McIlroy by a single shot.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Li Haotong held off Rory McIlroy to win the Omega Dubai Desert Classic Sunday by a single stroke, denying the Northern Irishman's bid to win his first title in 17 months.

Li finished with a tournament-record 23-under-par 265 after a final-round three under 69 to win by one shot over McIlroy, who also shot a 69.

The 22-year-old from China made a 10-foot birdie putt on the last after McIlroy had ramped up the pressure by reaching the par-5 18th hole in two shots.

Li started the day one ahead of his Northern Ireland rival and that advantage was quickly gone on the first hole when he made a bogey.

However, it was a bogey on the par-5 10th by Li that led to a two-shot swing when McIlroy made a birdie there, and the advantage remained with the four-time major champion when his bogey on the 11th was matched with another dropped shot by Li on the 12th.

But the momentum swung Li's way when he dropped a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 15th from the back fringe and McIlroy made a bogey on the 16th after hitting his three-wood off the tee into the waste area.

Both players then birdied the last two holes.

Li's second European Tour win will lift him to around 32nd in the world rankings, making him the first Chinese player to break into the top 50.

England's Tyrrell Hatton finished third on 20 under after hitting his second shot into the water on the 18th hole, while France's Alex Levy was fourth at 269.

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