Haotong Li hails special win over Rory McIlroy at Dubai Desert Classic

Haotong Li reflects on claiming the biggest win of his career to date at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Haotong Li believes he produced some of the shots of his life to register the biggest win of his career to date at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

The Chinese star secured a one-shot victory over Rory McIlroy at Emirates Golf Club, birdieing four of his final six holes to close a final-round 69 and finish on a tournament record of 23 under.

Li began the final round holding a one-shot lead but trailed McIlroy by two shots after a bogey at the 10th, only to bounce back and snatch victory with a fast finish to his round.

The world No 60 bounced back from a bogey at the 12th to birdie the next and holed a putt from off the 15th green to close the gap on McIlroy, before securing victory with back-to-back gains over the final two holes.

“I don’t have many trophies at home, so I was quite happy to lift that heavy thing!” Li said. “I just didn’t realise I could make that putt on 15 – that was huge.

“I think that (the 15th) was the turning point. And especially on 18, didn’t realise I would make that one, either. I was only two or one behind, so I just want to keep putting myself in a position and just not get too far away.

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“The last four holes was some of the best shots in my life so far. Happy to see I can hold a trophy here. I think my game is in a good position now.”

Li and McIlroy’s nearest challenger during the final round came from Tyrrell Hatton, who carded a bogey-free 66 to finish three strokes off the pace in third.

Hatton played his first 14 holes in six under and was within one of the lead until the final group’s back-to-back birdie finish, with the Englishman

“I’m really happy with how I played today,” Hatton said. “It was pretty tough conditions, a bit windier than previous days, so to go bogey-free is always good.

“It has been a good three weeks to start the year. Obviously the EurAsia Cup was fun and I absolutely loved being in the team event and I was pretty solid week last week.”

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