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Rory McIlroy wins Hero Dubai Desert Classic for record fourth time

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Rory McIlroy finished one stroke clear of Adrian Meronk in Dubai. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy finished one stroke clear of Adrian Meronk in Dubai. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

    Written by Associated Press

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Rory McIlroy won the DP World Tour's Hero Dubai Desert Classic for a record fourth time after reeling in Cameron Young early in the final round and then holding off Adrian Meronk down the stretch to seal a one-stroke victory on Sunday.

    McIlroy closed with a 2-under 70 to retain the title at a tournament he has now won more than any other event in his career. Among his 38 wins as a professional, he had also won the TOUR Championship and Wells Fargo Championship three times.

    Young started the final round with a two-stroke lead but was trailing McIlroy — his playing partner in the final group — after making bogey at No. 6 for his second dropped shot of the round.

    McIlroy opened up a three-shot lead by the turn after birdies at Nos. 8 and 9 but came under pressure from Meronk, who made four birdies on his back nine.

    The world No. 2 walked down No. 18 leading by one shot — just like at last week's Dubai Invitational, when he was nipped by Tommy Fleetwood — but this time he didn’t lose it as he closed with a par for a 14-under winning score.

    “It was one of those days where there wasn’t a ton of fireworks just because the course was so difficult,” said McIlroy, who made eight pars and a bogey on his back nine. “But I held on as best as I could and thankfully no one around the top of the leaderboard made much of a run.”

    Meronk (71), recently crowned as the DP World Tour's 2023 Player of the Year, was alone in second place. Young, playing in Dubai for the first time, was third after shooting 74.

    McIlroy broke a tie with South African great Ernie Els, who had also won the Hero Dubai Desert Classic three times, and has started 2024 with a second and first.

    “It’s a great platform to build from,” he said. “I know I’m playing good golf.

    “A couple little things still to work on,” McIlroy added, “but these weeks are great. You learn a ton from them, and obviously great to get the competition and come out on top as well.”

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