Rory McIlroy has dropped out of the world's top ten despite his third place finish at the Abu Dhabi Championship.
That’s because the two men who finished ahead of him have pushed past — winner Martin Kaymer to fifth and runner-up Ian Poulter displacing the Ulsterman in tenth.
And Shane Lowry will soar into the world's top 100 after the best finish of his fledgling career as a professional on the European Tour. He banked €75,000 for fourth place behind gifted German Martin Kaymer as the Abu Dhabi Championship came to a thrilling climax yesterday.
McIlroy set Irish hearts racing as he roared back into contention on the closing holes of the National Course and was justifiably pleased to complete his opening event of 2010 in third place, the Holywood younger's ninth top-five finish in his last 10 starts.
McIlroy (20) and Lowry (22), who a few years back were foursomes partners on the Irish amateur team, brought an impressive week's work to a satisfying conclusion as they both compiled rounds of five-under-par 67.
If these two young men suggest a bright future for Ireland on the world's professional fairways, all Europe should be especially excited about Kaymer (25), who underlined his world class on the final two holes yesterday as he wrapped up his fifth and probably most impressive victory on Tour.
He cannot drive like Michael Schumacher. If he could, he wouldn't have a titanium plate in his right foot, the painful consequence of the frightening go-kart crash in Arizona last August which sidelined the German for nearly three months. Yet Kaymer showed he's as keen a competitor as his world-famous fellow countryman Schumacher, as he won the Abu Dhabi Championship for the second time in three years.
In the process, he saw off the valiant challenge of runner-up Ian Poulter and McIlroy with a final round 66 that was founded as much on bloody-minded determination and inspired putting as polished golf.
This guy states few ambitions beyond winning a couple of times on the European Tour this season and making it onto Europe's team at next October's Ryder Cup. Yet he's got the game and the temperament to one day emulate his boyhood idol Bernhard Langer in the Major championship arena.
McIlroy started poorly, hitting two of his first three shots into sand and cancelling out his birdie at the par-five second with an untidy bogey, from mid-fairway, at the fifth, where he chunked his chip from gnarly greenside rough.
Few would have given much for McIlroy's chances as he wallowed four off the pace on the tee at eight. Yet a nice birdie four there and two more at 10 and 12 indicated there was life in Ireland's young warhorse yet.
McIlroy got within one stroke of the leading duo with splendid birdies at 15 and 17 but his chances expired when his drive landed in rough at the last, forcing him to lay-up at this par five.
Poulter also missed the fairway so Kaymer, whose superb final drive landed on the short grass, took full advantage, cracking a five-wood to 70 feet before two-putting for the victory-clinching birdie.