Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Dubai: Rory McIlroy hails cool Luke Donald as he lifts £8m prize

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 11: Luke Donald of England with the Race to Dubai Trophy after the final round of the Dubai World Championship on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates on December 11, 2011 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Luke Donald pointed his two index fingers to the sky yesterday after completing an unprecedented double — a double that has earned the English world number one an amazing £8million.

When Rory McIlroy failed to win the Dubai World Championship — he finished “only” joint 11th — Donald knew he had added the European Tour money list title to the PGA Tour crown in America.

Coming as it did little more than a month since his father died suddenly, Donald did well to hold himself together over the closing few holes knowing what he had achieved.

The 34-year-old even birdied the last three holes for a second successive 66 and took third place in the tournament, one behind Scot Paul Lawrie and three behind Spain's Alvaro Quiros, who eagled the 18th for a notable double of his own after taking the Dubai Desert Classic back in February.

Only when he was being interviewed afterwards did the tears well up in Donald's eyes as he was asked what his father would have thought and done.

“He would have been very proud and he would just give me a big hug,” he said.

“My father hopped into my head quite a few times (over the closing stretch).

“I didn't really look at a leaderboard until the 13th, but didn't see Rory's name and so knew it was mine.”

“I had so many mixed emotions.

“This is something I didn't think was possible, but it became a possibility midway through the season.

“It's driven me to work hard and be as successful as I've been. Rory made it tough, but for it actually to happen is almost a weight off my shoulders.

“History is why we play the game and I'm very proud of it. I got what I came for.”

McIlroy had conceded defeat after a third-round 71 left him in eighth spot.

McIlroy, who finished with another 71, has pulled out of this week's event in Thailand and, on doctor's advice, will stay in Dubai for a few days' rest before flying home.

He has been suffering from a virus and was even told it might be Dengue fever, so is looking forward to putting his clubs away until just before the Abu Dhabi Championship —Tiger Woods as well as Donald will be there too — on January 20-23.

“I think this week was one too many,” he said, referring to a hectic recent schedule that has seen him make three trips to Asia and one to Bermuda.

“But Luke deserves it. Basically every time he's teed it up he's had a chance or he's finished in the top five or top 10.

“Mentally you have to be so good just to keep grinding out the scores when you need to. “But I've made great progress this year — with my game, with my results, with everything.

“I feel like I'm swinging the club as good as I ever have and I feel like my body is as strong as it's ever been.

“I've won my first major (by eight shots, with a record score and at a younger age than any US Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1933) and my goals are just to win tournaments and try to become a multiple-major champion.”

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