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China's emerging star Li Haotong beats Rory McIlroy to Dubai title

China's emerging star Li Haotong beats Rory McIlroy to Dubai title”

Now ranked in 60th place in the world ranking, Li would jump inside the top fifty with a win and potentially be on his way to The Masters for the first time but first things first for man who finished 3rd at the Open Championship previous year.

Rory McIlroy saidWednesday that he will take a new approach to winning the Masters for the first time by slashing his Augusta support team which has ballooned to nearly 20 people in recent years.

McIlroy has now finished in the top three in each of his first two events in 2018.

Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, South African duo Darren Fichardt and Haydn Porteous, Irishman Paul Dunne and China's Li Haotong were six under, a shot clear of a group containing defending champion Sergio Garcia.

A frustrated McIlroy said: "It was a couple of bad shots, a couple of poor decisions, a couple of mental errors, a few tentative putts out there as well".

McIlroy overturned a one-shot overnight deficit with the aid of three birdies in the first 10 holes at Emirates Golf Club, but bogeyed the 11th and 16th as well as three-putting the par-five 13th for par.

"It was just one of those days", he said. After that shift in momentum to start the back nine, McIlroy should have capitalised.

In eight rounds, the Ulsterman has been a combined 40-under-par - he was 18-under in finishing joint-third behind Tommy Fleetwood in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship - and that sort of form augurs well for the season ahead.

"Missed a short one on the fourth and made bogey on eighth", said McIlroy. "But tried until the very end, made two good birdies".

McIlroy has now finished third and second in his two starts since calling an early end to an injury-plagued and winless 2017 campaign, but will rue his wayward drive on the 16th among an otherwise fine display from the tee. The competitor in me is very disappointed right now.

"I had to make that transition from Asia to Europe and I was trying to play in as many events as I could".

"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".

The world No 60 ended the week on 23 under and broke the tournament's 72-hole scoring record, as McIlroy let a two-shot advantage slip on the back nine to fall just short. "I think most of the time, only two or one behind, so I just want to keep pulling myself in a position and just don't go too far away".



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