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McIlroy wins first title in Dubai

FINAL LEADERBOARD:
-19 R McIlroy (NI) -18 J Rose (Eng) -17 H Stenson (Swe) -16 M Kaymer (Ger), P Casey (Eng), R Karlsson (Swe)
Selected others: -13 L Oosthuizen (SA), M Jimenez (Spa) -12 S Garcia (Spa) -11 R Fisher (Eng), C Montgomerie (Sco) -10 O Wilson (Eng)
Dubai Desert Classic leaderboard

YOUNGEST EUROPEAN TOUR WINNERS
Rory McIlroy
18 yrs 290 days D Hayes
1971 Spanish Open
19 yrs 121 days S Ballesteros
1976 Dutch Open
19 yrs 149 days P Way
1982 Dutch Open
19 yrs 176 days S Garcia
1999 Irish Open
19 yrs 191 days S Ballesteros
1999 Lancome Trophy
19 yrs 267 days S Garcia
1999 German Masters
19 yrs 273 days R McIlroy
2009 Dubai Desert Classic

Northern Ireland teenager Rory McIlroy claimed his maiden professional tournament win with a nervy victory at the Dubai Desert Classic.

The 19-year-old had led by six strokes, but Justin Rose moved to within one shot coming onto the final hole.

The Englishman narrowly missed a birdie putt to force a play-off on the 18th, with McIlroy saving par for the win.

He closed with a two-under par 70 for a total of 19-under, while Rose carded 67 to secure second place.

The win elevates McIlroy to 16th in the world rankings, while it also makes him the seventh youngest winner in European Tour history.

"This win has definitely moved me up a step and I just want to keep getting better and better," said McIlroy.

"Your success only makes you more motivated to do better. I have become a very good player, but I still have a lot of years to progress and I just want to keep improving and hopefully one day I will be able to compete with Tiger (Woods).

"I will have to reassess my goals, but I will just go out every week and try and get myself into contention going into the back nine on Sunday and that's my goal every week."

Since turning pro in 2007, McIlroy came close to victory in the European Masters and this season's Hong Kong Open but lost both in a play-off.

Report - McIllroy's rapid rankings rise

And it appeared that nerves might have got the better of him once more in Dubai.

After leading from the very first day it looked as though he would cruise to victory having led by six strokes with just six to play.

However, three bogeys saw Rose close the gap before the drama on the final hole which saw McIlroy pitch his third shot into the bunker.

"It has taken monkey off my back, having lost in play-offs," said McIlroy.

"I got myself into a great position at the middle of the back nine, let a few shots slip when Justin birdied a couple of them. I fought back and it is nice to hold it together on the last with a great up-and-down for the victory.

"To beat a field of this quality is very satisfying."

After completing his third round 67 at the fog-affected event on Sunday morning, McIlroy got off to a blistering start to his final round with three birdies.

That gave him a five-stroke cushion and a double-bogey at six proved to be just a blip as none of his main rivals could capitalise.

The former world number one amateur added five straight birdies from the ninth to move clear again, but playing partner Rose applied the pressure with an eagle at the 13th and a birdie at 17.

At the par-five final hole a nervous-looking McIlroy found the bunker with his third shot, while Rose landed his approach 15-feet from the hole.

But when Rose narrowly failed to make his birdie, McIlroy got up and down for par sinking a four-footer for victory.

"I went to the 18th tee, knowing I still had a one-shot lead and Justin needed to birdie it," added the Ulsterman.

"I hit a perfect lay-up shot and it was just a little bit of adrenaline, my hands got into it and I flipped my third shot into the bunker.

"It was tricky up and down and I took a few deep breaths and composed myself. It was probably one of the best bunker shots I have ever played. To knock the putt in was just great.

606: DEBATE
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Sweden's Henrik Stenson (67) finished third at 17 under, with Robert Karlsson (65), Martin Kaymer (67) and Paul Casey (68) a further shot adrift in fifth.

In-form South African Louis Oosthuizen, who had been in contention for much of the tournament, could only manage a 74 which left him tied for seventh place.

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