DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – When Rory McIlroy made the turn on Sunday he was tied for the lead at 13 under par. Not bad for a guy who went out in 1-over 36 and began the day two strokes out of the top spot.
As a slow drizzle descended on the Emirates Golf Club, however, the Ulsterman’s chances faded.
Bogeys at Nos. 10, 12 and 13 cost the world No. 6 his first title of 2014, and his second Dubai crown, but compared to last year’s trip through the Middle East, McIlroy's tie for ninth was a marked improvement.
“I think anything that sort of could go wrong did,” said McIlroy, who closed with a 74 to finish at 12 under, four shots behind winner Stephen Gallacher. “I hit a couple of loose drives, but I didn't really get away with them.”
McIlroy missed the cut in his 2013 opener down the road in Abu Dhabi the same week he was introduced as a Nike Golf staff player. Things didn’t get much better from there.
But to begin this season McIlroy has already played four times as many rounds following his runner-up finish in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago, and has now finished in the top 10 in six of his last eight events.