Unforgettable moments from the Dubai Desert Classic

Those who managed to wrangle a day off on a working Monday, were witness to an epic battle between Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed

By Joy Chakravarty

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Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot during the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Monday. — AFP
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot during the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Monday. — AFP

Published: Mon 30 Jan 2023, 8:34 PM

Let’s face it - even the rain found it difficult to rain on Rory McIlroy’s parade!

The 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic was another finish that swept the viewers to the edge of their seats and forced them to chew the last vestiges of their nails.


The twists and turns in the plot finally unravelling at the very last minute with the very last putt of the tournament.

Those who managed to wrangle a day off on a working Monday, were witness to an epic battle between Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed.


Here are some of the key moments from the tournament that will remain forever talking points:

Change of weapon for Rory: In the field of 132, McIlroy was 112th in the Driving Accuracy list, finding just 22 out of 56 fairways over the four rounds. Yet, he was 11th in Strokes Gained – Putting at +1.18. It is just reflective that one of the most ruthless drivers of the golf ball is the game is now wielding his putter as a rather potent weapon. Key evidence in making this point is that nerveless 15-footer birdie putt he drained on the final hole.

The mentality of Reed: The jury seems to have already given its verdict against the man who was once popularly called Captain America. Every move he makes is scrutinised with a rather large magnifying glass. The ‘teegate’, where he was accused of throwing a tee at McIlroy, was a classic case of making a mountain out of a molehill. And then there was the rules imbroglio and the brouhaha it caused on social media. And yet, Reed managed to give a massive scare to McIlroy with his doggedness.

These amateurs are good: Agreed Ludvig Aberg and Michael Thorbjornsen are crème de la crème when it comes to amateur golfers, but to have each one of them on top of the leaderboard after the first and second round was indeed a great advertisement of the potential we have in the sport, and how ready and comfortable they seem to be even when put under intense spotlight.

Hats off to the ground staff: Nothing in the Middle East is probably built with 65 millimeters of rain in mind. But when it did happen for the first time in 34 years of its history, anyone would have understood if the tournament was cut short by at least 18 holes. But thanks to the outstanding work from the ground staff of Emirates Golf Club, we did manage to have play on each of the two days it rained, and beyond. Not every superhero wears a Nike cap. The ground and service staff and organisers Falcon Golf and DP World Tour were as big a hero as McIlroy this week.


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