Li tops McIlroy to win Dubai Desert Classic - SHINE

Li tops McIlroy to win Dubai Desert Classic

AP
Li Haotong finished on a tournament record 23-under-par 265 after a final-round 3-under 69 to win by one shot over Rory McIlroy, who also shot a 69.
AP
AFP

Li Haotong of China poses with the trophy after his one-shot Dubai Desert Classic victory at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on January 28, 2018.

Li Haotong held off Rory McIlroy to win the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday by a single stroke, denying the Northern Irishman's bid to win his first title in 17 months.

Li finished on a tournament record 23-under-par 265 after a final-round 3-under 69 to win by one shot over McIlroy, who also shot a 69.

The 22-year-old from China made a ten-foot birdie putt on the last after McIlroy had ramped up the pressure by reaching the par-5 18th hole in two shots.

Li started the day one ahead of his Northern Ireland rival and that advantage was quickly gone on the first hole when he made a bogey.

However, it was a bogey on the par-5 10th by Li that led to a two-shot swing when McIlroy made a birdie there, and the advantage remained with the four-time major champion when his bogey on the 11th was matched with another dropped shot by Li on the 12th.

But the momentum swung Li's way when he dropped a 20-feet birdie putt on the par-3 15th from the back fringe and McIlroy made a bogey on the 16th after hitting his three-wood off the tee into the waste area.

Both players then birdied the last two holes as Li became the first Asian winner of the tournament.

Li's second European Tour win will lift him to around 32nd in the world rankings, making him the first Chinese player to break into the top-50.

England's Tyrrell Hatton finished third on 20 under after hitting his second shot into the water on the 18th hole, while France's Alex Levy was fourth with a 269.

In Yangon, American Paul Peterson finished with a birdie on the final hole to clinch his maiden Asian Tour title with a two-shot victory at the Myanmar Open on Sunday.

Peterson, 29, signed off with a 5-under 66 in the final round to stand at 13-under for the tournament, with the Japanese pair of Satoshi Kodaira and Tomoyo Ikemura finishing tied second. American Berry Henson was fourth.

"The Asian Tour is where I started and to be able to get a win here really means a lot," Peterson said.

"I had to make that transition from Asia to Europe and I was trying to play in as many events as I could. So it just feels right that I'm finally able to have a win here in Myanmar."

The American began the final day two shots off the pace but two birdies and an eagle in his opening five holes put him in contention. He endured a scare dropping two shots on the 15th and 17th holes but held his nerve to seal the title.

Kodaira set the course record at the Pun Hlaing Golf Club with a 63 but his impressive display could not help him overtake Peterson.

Thailand's Rattanon Wannasrichan, who led for the first two rounds, ended with a final round of 69 to share fifth place with 2016 champion Shaun Norris of South Africa.

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