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Rory McIlroy falls quickly from high to low

By Karl MacGinty

Rory McIlroy's play ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous over four remarkable days in Dubai.

Scot Stephen Gallacher proved his heart is as big as the huge Arabian coffee pot presented to the Dubai winner by once again recovering from a final-round crisis to become the first man to retain the Desert Classic title.

It was Gallacher who used the words "simply sublime" to describe McIlroy's first-round 63 after playing the opening 36 holes in a three-ball with the Ulsterman and Tiger Woods.

Even in his moment of victory, the Scot still appeared in awe of McIlroy's virtuoso performance that morning, saying: "Rory's first round was unbelievable. I shot 66 and it felt like 75. Even Tiger was saying for such a slight guy, he hits it so far.

"His ball flight is phenomenal. I've never played with anybody who flights it as good and as high as Rory, so high and so penetrating ... I think he'll be contending with Tiger for the world No 1 spot. He's a class player."

Though too polite to say it, Gallacher also must have been staggered at the way in which McIlroy let him off the hook as the Scot coughed up his overnight lead, and more, by playing the first eight holes yesterday in a calamitous four-over-par.

His third European Tour victory propelled the Scot deep into the world's elite top 50, thereby securing his first visit to the Masters in April.

After wrapping up his week with a frustrating 74 for a share of ninth place on 12-under, McIlroy sighed: "It was just one of those days. The golf course played a lot differently today and I think anything that could go wrong, did."

Admitting his failure to hole a couple of putts early on starved him of momentum, McIlroy explained: "I struggled to read the greens for some reason.

"The greens changed colour just a bit and I found it very hard to see the line," added McIlroy.

After a fortnight's practice in Dubai, his next outing will be in the Accenture Match Play World Golf Championship from February 19–23.

Though Damien McGrane's weekend failed to live up to the promise of his first-round 66, the Kells man said "there's definitely a few positives I can take" after finishing tied 20th on 10-under having closed with back-to-back 71s.

Michael Hoey was one of only half a dozen players to go bogey-free yesterday, a closing 70 lifting him into 54th.

Tiger Woods completed his final-round 71 with a three-birdie flourish. The two-time Dubai-winner finished in 41st, by far his worst finish in eight visits to the Desert Classic.

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