Rory McIlroy has put together one of the most impressively consistent years of his career in 2019, but on Thursday at the European Tour’s final event of the season, the DP World Tour Championship, McIlroy put a capper on a great year by hitting what he described as the best shot he’s struck all year.
Coming into the event without the possibility of winning the season-long Race to Dubai as a result of his early-season waffling about taking up European Tour membership, McIlroy still was looking for a strong finish to his year and the $3 million tournament winner’s check.
He made strides towards the latter on Thursday as he came to the home hole at the Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai at 6-under par for the round. Playing the par-5 18th hole, McIlroy found the fairway with his drive, but still had nearly 300 yards to the flag.
While that’s a lay-up for most everyone else on the planet, McIlroy pulled 3-wood and flushed it.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 21, 2019
“Honestly, it’s possibly the best shot I’ve hit all year,” McIlroy said. “I started great, but the finish was lovely. I finished with four 3s in a row, which always does the job around here. The two shots into the last were right up there with the two best shots I’ve hit this year, I would say.”
McIlroy paid off the brilliant shot by making the eagle putt to post an 8-under par 64 to trail only France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera after the first round. MLV birdied five of his last six holes to post a 9-under par 63 to better McIlroy by one.
The weekend in Dubai will be one to watch as McIlroy and Lorenzo-Vera will have a host of horses to hold off if they’d like to claim the final event on the European Tour schedule. Jon Rahm (66), Tommy Fleetwood (67), Tom Lewis (67), Rafa Cabrera Bello (68), Marcus Kinhult (68), Danny Willett (69), Justin Rose (69), Francesco Molinari (69), Haotong Li (69) and Thomas Detry (69) are all in the top-10 heading into Friday’s second round, six of which are in the top-40 in the Official World Golf Rankings.