Double delight for McIlroy as Race to Dubai winner seals DP World Tour Championship
17:34 GMT, 25 November 2012
All week Rory McIlroy had talked about his determination to finish the season in grand style, but surely even he didn't dream of winning the DP World Tour Championship in such breathtaking fashion.
Dressed in Tiger red, what transpired on a stunning Sunday afternoon on the Earth Course was right up there with anything Tiger produced in his prime.
As expected, a wonderful battle unfolded between him and an Englishman.
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What a year: Rory McIlroy celebrates his DP World Tour Championship and race to Dubai victories
Say cheese: Caroline Wozniacki captures McIlroy's big moment
But while world No 2 Luke Donald was troubled by a sinus infection and would finish in a tie for third, it was Justin Rose who came through to play the round of his life.
Rose's 62 not only lowered the course record by two shots, it was two better than any round he had previously played in his career.
When he signed off after one of the putts of the season on the 18th, he was two clear of McIlroy, who had just birdied the 14th.
Remember the way Woods used to sense danger and respond accordingly That power now lies with the remarkable Northern Irishman, who followed that birdie with four more to win by two strokes.
After watching Ian Poulter finish their fourballs match at the Ryder Cup on Saturday with five birdies, here he had produced a similar thrilling spree of his own. Watched by record crowds here, it made for a captivating show.
Size does matter: McIlroy gets to grips with the huge prize he scooped for winning the race to Dubai
Big finish: McIlroy birdied the last to put the cap on a fantastic few days at the Earth Course
That's my boy: Wozniacki was there to watch Rory succeed in Dubai
Race to Dubai – final standings
1 Rory McIlroy 4,445,925
2 Justin Rose 3,035,589
3 Louis Oosthuizen 2,567,581
4 Peter Hanson 2,435,109
5 Ian Poulter 2,079,331
6 Branden Grace 2,015,889
7 Luke Donald 1,912,004
8 Francesco Molinari 1,784,477
9 Graeme McDowell 1,566,840
10 Paul Lawrie 1,538,907
11 Nicolas Colsaerts 1,406,284
12 Lee Westwood 1,346,441
13 Matteo Manassero 1,284,926
14 Marcel Siem 1,102,673
15 Thorbjorn Olesen 1,054,682
16 Charl Schwartzel 986,270
17 Rafa Cabrera Bello 975,406
18 David Lynn 973,614
19 Jamie Donaldson 926,885
20 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano 888,277
And so all the spoils went to McIlroy on the final afternoon of the European Tour season, as he claimed 838,000 for the tournament to go alongside the 629,000 bonus that was already his for winning the Race to Dubai.
'It is a great way to end a great year,' said McIlroy. 'I came here with that intention and to pull it off feels tremendous.
'It was a dream finish, managing all those birdies and a wonderful way to go into my break. Now I can really enjoy it.'
There were many shots down the stretch that were memorable but his play at the 17th and 18th holes, in particular, stood out.
Tied with Rose standing on the 17th tee, he produced a bullet of an iron shot that finished 6ft short of the flag and he holed the birdie putt.
Then, at the par five 18th, and with
the green clearly reachable in two, the 23 year old emphasised his
growing maturity by resisting the temptation to grandstand and playing
for a par five.
As it turned out, he pitched from 85 yards to 12ft and holed the birdie putt to make it a two-stroke triumph rather than one.
It was Rory's day, then, but it was difficult not to feel an ounce of sympathy for the two Englishman left in his wake.
Donald didn't need to say anything about the sinus problem that has dogged him throughout his career. You could see it in his bloodshot eyes and hear it in his voice.
He's put if off for years but no longer…he will have a sinus operation in a fortnight.
What a round: Justin Rose finished with a 62 to claim second place behind McIlroy
As for Rose, his experienced caddie Mark Fulcher called his man's 62 'the greatest round of golf I have ever seen in my life.'
It contained a signature finish, too, as Rose had a putt from all of 100ft at the last. About three-quarters of the way, there was a ridge the ball had to just fall over if it was to finish next to the hole.
As Rose said:'It was one of those hero or zero putts, where you look like an idiot if the ball stops just short of the ridge but thankfully it just crawled over.'
He gave a joyous clenched fist salute when it almost went in, before heading for the practice ground.
At worst, it looked like he would be in a play-off. But then came Rory and a year that was already celebratory had just been given a glorious exclamation point.