Rory McIlroy's Dubai Desert Classic title hopes sank in the water on 18
Rory McIlroy's Dubai Desert Classic title hopes sank in the water on 18 Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Outclassed by Collin Morikawa in the DP World Championship in November, outlasted by Thomas Pieters at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and outfoxed by Viktor Hovland at the Dubai Desert Classic this week — Rory McIlroy’s wait for a DP World Tour title goes on.

The Northern Irishman has four majors, and 32 professional titles to his name but his last big crown in a DP World Tour sanctioned event came back in November 2019 at the WGC-HSBC Championship in China.

Sure, he claimed the Wells Fargo in Nevada in May last year, and followed it up with victory in the CJ Cup in Charlotte in October, but victories outside the PGA in the United States are becoming a rare thing for McIlroy.

Some have suggested that Mcilroy’s time has passed as he last won a major in 2014 and he should pass the torch on to the younger generation — players like Hovland and Morikawa, who are both 24 years old.

But herein lies a problem.

Sure, Rory has been playing professional golf for half his life and seems to have been around forever, but he turned pro when he was 16 and is still only 32 — that is only eight years older that those other two youngsters who recently won in the UAE.

You must remember that golf — unlike most other sports — has a certain longevity. Take Phil Mickelson, for example, who is 50 and the reigning PGA Champion. Lee Westwood won the 2020 Abu Dhabi title at the age of 46, and Sunday’s runner-up at Emirates Golf Club — Richard Bland — is 49 this week.

To suggest McIlroy is anywhere near the tailend of his career is nonsense and there are plenty more titles in the pipeline.

Rory is also back up to No. 6 in the world rankings thanks to his recent flirtations with the winner’s circle once again.

He was leading going into the final day at the DP World Tour Championship, was in contention throughout in Abu Dhabi, and was two strokes from victory on the Majlis Course on Sunday before his errant approach shot on the 18th found the water and sank along with his title hopes.

A wry smile and a wave as he came off the final green on Sunday seemed to show that he, too, knows, that another big crown is not too far away and he will convert one of there near misses pretty soon.