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Rory McIlroy completes unprecedented hat-trick as he tops PGA and DP Tours and remains World No 1

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Rory McIlroy completes unprecedented hat-trick as he tops PGA and DP Tours and remains World No 1

Rory McIlroy completes an unprecedented hat-trick as he leads the PGA and DP Tours while retaining his World No 1 spot… but missing out on the DP World Tour Championship

  • Rory McIlroy dropped out of the DP World Tour Championship finishing fourth
  • But the 33-year-old ended his season at the top of the PGA and DP standings
  • McIlroy also maintained his position in his ninth stint as the current world No 1

One of two must be done. To judge from Rory McIlroy’s words and actions after he made a piece of history in Dubai on Sunday night, it’s going to be fine.

He fell short of the more immediate goal of winning the DP World Tour Championship – which went to Jon Rahm, with McIlroy in fourth – but in the wider scheme of the European order of merit, the world No 1 managed to overtake Matt Fitzpatrick at the top . the list for the fourth time.

With this, he ended his season with the points crown for both the PGA and DP Tours, as well as his place at the top of the world rankings. Such a hat-trick has yet to be achieved, though there remains a nagging omission in such a strong body of work.

The clock has turned more than eight years since McIlroy’s last major, but no player on golf’s confused landscape will carry more momentum into the next one.

Of course, we’re familiar with the false dawns of McIlroy’s career, but it’s telling to consider his results since he missed the cut in Texas in March: in 16 tournaments, including a strong showing in every major, he won three and recorded more. eight top-five finishes, including the role of the coal face in the political war with the LIV tour.

Optimism for that long-awaited fifth major in 2023 is well-placed.

‘It seems like a long time since the Texas Open when I struggled a bit and made some tweaks to my game – that’s where my year turned,’ he said.

The 33-year-old fell short of glory at the DP World Tour Championship, coming in fourth

The 33-year-old fell short of glory at the DP World Tour Championship, coming in fourth

‘I don’t think I’ve played as consistently in my whole career as I do now. It’s been a fantastic year on both sides of the pond.

‘It probably sounds like a broken record but it’s been eight years since I won a major. I feel like I’ve done everything else in the game since then, so all I can do is keep my head down, work hard and play the way I play.

‘I’ve been really encouraged with how I’ve played this year in the majors and that’s something to really build on for next year.’

McIlroy’s prospects of winning this tournament were limited after a poor first round of 71, but subsequent scores of 65 and 67 opened the door.

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Starting with Rahm’s final loop three back, his chances dwindled as the Spaniard birdied each of the first three holes and the world No 5 was about to charge to 67, closing on 20 under par.

After a strong season, there remains great optimism that McIlroy will finally win his fifth major next year

After a strong season, there remains great optimism that McIlroy will finally win his fifth major next year

‘I wish people would stop telling me it was a bad year,’ Rahm said. ‘Three wins on three different continents, so yeah, it’s not a major, but it’s been a really, really good season.’

McIlroy’s 68, achieved despite some recurring issues with his driver, put him four back, with Tyrrell Hatton an impressive runner-up to Rahm at 18 under.

That Sweden’s Alex Noren took third and fifth was shared by Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood meant a promising final leaderboard for Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald.

For Fitzpatrick, there may be an element of regret at the end of a stunning season in which he won the US Open.

He leads the tournament here after two rounds and creates the possibility of robbing McIlroy of an order-of-merit position he has held since July. But the Englishman’s closing 73 killed his chances on both fronts.