Chinese star Li Haotong one clear of McIlroy in Dubai

29 January, 2018, 02:47 | Author: Laura Christensen
  • Chinese star Li Haotong one clear of McIlroy in Dubai

McIlroy began another day of low scoring by completing his fog-delayed second round with three successive birdies.

McIlroy finished the 2017 season early after an injury-plagued year and he's now finished second and third since his return.

Throughout the week in Dubai, McIlroy has racked up 13 birdies and an eagle on the back nine, but he has enjoyed less success at the start of every round.

Now ranked in 60th place in the world ranking, Li would jump inside the top fifty with a win and potentially be on his way to The Masters for the first time but first things first for man who finished 3rd at the Open Championship a year ago. "This win gives me a lot of confidence and will help me do better in the majors this year", said Li, who came third at last year's British Open at Birkdale. "So just did that all day".

His stunning finish under incredible pressure further cemented his reputation as one of the European Tours great clutch performers, following on from a closing 63 at last seasons Open Championship and a fourth-round 64 to win on home soil at the 2016 Volvo China Open. Both then birdied the third and seventh holes to make the turn at 21 under par, way ahead of the field.

Chinese star Li Haotong one clear of McIlroy in Dubai
Chinese star Li Haotong one clear of McIlroy in Dubai

"If someone had of told me at the start of the year you'd finish third and second your first two events, I'd say, 'Yeah, I'd take that, '" McIlroy added.

Let's hope one thing he learned was to play quicker - the worst thing about his game. I just wish I could get a couple of those holes back.

It appeared the pivotal moment until a desperately poor McIlroy bogey at the 11th - as he said, from out of nowhere.

"That wasn't too good". He wasn't clicking. He is now, despite his two bogeys on the back nine, and that's going to be a big problem worldwide over the next eight months. McIlroy made bogey on the 11th, only for Li to drop a shot at the 12th to remain two shots behind. But I tried until the very end, made two good birdies and made him win it in the end.

Donaldson, who last won on the tour at the 2014 Czech Masters, said the thought of becoming the first player to shoot a 59 crossed his mind.


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