Just not to the player he probably expected.
McIlroy played his last 11 holes in 6 under for a closing 66 that left him one shot behind little-known Gary Stal.
It was McIlroy’s fourth runner-up in the last five years at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, and he’s failed to upstage unlikely winners such as Robert Rock, Pablo Larrazabal and now Stal, the 357th-ranked player in the world.
Even the world No. 1 seemed resigned to the fact that he was fighting for second place on Saturday night. Instead, he nearly holed out for eagle on the final hole to force a playoff.
McIlroy finished one shot ahead of Martin Kaymer, who had an improbable meltdown in the final round.
McIlroy has finished first or second in each of his last six European Tour starts.