So much for no end-of-season drama on the European Tour.
The Race to Dubai may already have been decided, but Rory McIlroy ensured Sunday that he would bag the season-ending event, too.
Just like he wanted.
With five birdies in a row to close, McIlroy authored a vintage performance in Dubai to clip a freewheeling Justin Rose and win the DP World Tour Championship by two strokes.
“It’s unbelievable,” McIlroy said afterward. “I said at the start of the week that I wanted to come here and hold two trophies on the 18th green on Sunday evening, and that’s what I’ve managed to do.”
Rose, who began the day six shots off the lead, fired a course-record, 10-under 62 (including a closing 30) to post 21 under. At that time, he was three shots clear of McIlroy.
That’s when Rory went on a roll.
He rattled off five consecutive birdies to close, shooting 66, passing Rose and finishing at 23 under, which equaled the tournament record.
McIlroy had clinched the yearlong Race to Dubai two weeks ago, rendering the final two events of the season meaningless. That has prompted a few players, including world No. 2 Luke Donald, to say that the European Tour needs to make a few alterations to its late-season schedule to ensure that the drama continues to build until the finale. And changes are forthcoming in 2013.
But even with no cumulative title to play for in Dubai, McIlroy shrugged off a bout with sunstroke to win both titles and capture his first worldwide event in two months (PGA Tour’s BMW Championship), and fifth overall. Interestingly, it was his first official European Tour title of the season; his only other win on that circuit this year was the co-sanctioned PGA Championship.
“I couldn’t have wished for the season to end any better,” he said.
Just a week earlier, McIlroy had complained of fatigue after a missed cut in Hong Kong. Now, the world No. 1 can enjoy an extended break, likely until mid-January, when he will tee it up alongside Tiger Woods at the Abu Dhabi Championship.
Prepare yourself for an entirely new look.
This was McIlroy’s final event with Titleist equipment, as he and the company have already announced that their relationship will not continue beyond this season.
He has already begun tinkering with new sticks, though he has been coy about the manufacturer. It has been widely reported that he has signed a mega-deal with Nike – to the tune of $200 million – and how he performs in 2013 will likely be one of two major story lines in the sport.
Based on how he finished 2012, the expectations have never been higher.