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Rory McIlroy frustrated after failing to seal the deal in Dubai

Rory McIlroy frustrated after failing to seal the deal in Dubai

Despite being edged out on this occasion McIlroy looks to be back to his best, and is now back into the top ten in the Official World Golf Ranking after back-to-back top five finishes in the Middle East.

The 22-year-old trailed four-time Major victor McIlroy by two shots with eight holes left, but displayed nerves of steel to overhaul his playing partner and ensure that he will become China's first top-50 player in history.

McIlroy appeared to seize control on No 10 with a two-shot swing when McIlroy made birdie and Li made bogey.

McIlroy also dropped a shot at the 16th before he and Li each birdied the final two, but 11 and 13 were the holes that caused the Northern Irishman the most regret.

Unfortunately for the three-time European Tour victor, 12 other players finished the tournament on the same total, which meant he pocketed less than would be expected for a top-10 finish.

Just as Tiger Woods's philosophy focused on "Ws" - wins - through his prime, so too does McIlroy chase victories and the pain of defeat on this latest occasion was to do with a missed opportunity, especially since his last tour win came at the end of the 2016 season. I just wish I could get a couple of those holes back.

Birdies on the par four sixth and ninth holes saw the Pinner-based player go out in 33 - his best score on the front nine of the week - before he picked up a third birdie of the day at the par three 1th. "I was two shots behind at that point and I just wanted to have fun", he said.

"I made him win it in the end, which was all I could do".

McIlroy was making his comeback to golf after a three-month layoff.

The four-time Major victor has made an excellent comeback from injury, finishing tied third and second in his first two starts of 2018 in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. "But being in the positions I've been in and having two close calls the first couple of weeks of the year, it's a little hard".

He needed just 24 putts to complete his round, and said: "It's going to be fun out there tomorrow".

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