A MIXED DAY’s play for Rory McIlroy saw the world number two finish in a tie for fifth at the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday.
The event was won by Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who went bogey-free in his final round to hold off the challenge of Stephen Gallacher and Lee Westwood by a single stroke (-18) and claim his second-ever European Tour win.
A previous winner in Dubai, McIlroy had been prominent on the leaderboard throughout the weekend but he teed off his final round with a bogey on the first before a double bogey on the ninth followed a string on pars.
As he did on Saturday, the Holywood man recovered somewhat on the back nine however, collecting birdies on the tenth, 13th, 17th and 18th to regain several positions and eventually share fifth (-14) with Soren Kjeldsen, whose 67 was one of the rounds of the day, George Coetzee and Scott Jamieson.
Playing tougher than the opening three days, the Emirates Golf Club gave up fewer birdies on Sunday and it was a case of ‘slow and steady wins the race’ for Cabrera-Bello. He went out in 34 shots, carding only one birdie on the second, but good approach play on 11 and 12 saw him edge level with the leading golfers.
An eagle on the second for Westwood seemed to signal a good day ahead for the English golfer. However, he could only add one more birdie to his card over the rest of the day and when Cabrera-Bello picked up another birdie on the 17th, victory slipped away from the veteran.
He would still tie for second (-17) with Stephen Gallacher, whose final round of 69 capped off a fine tournament for the Scot. Germany’s Marcel Siem was fourth, finishing on 15-under.
Peter Lawrie was next best of the Irish – a second consecutive 70 enough for him to claim a share of 28th along with Gareth Maybin on seven-under par. Damien McGrane ended up amongst a group tied for 42nd on -4, while a five-over 77 for Shane Lowry saw the Dubliner slip back down the field after a promising start to his week, a 68 on Thursday.