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29 January 2018, 03:36 | Tracey Rhodes
McIlroy is one of three players on 10 under
Li Haotong faced down the one and only Rory McIlroy after overturning a two-shot deficit from the 10th hole to win the Dubai Desert Classic.
Both players birdied the last two holes as Li took the Championship with a score of -22.
McIlroy, a two-time Dubai Desert Classic victor, held the 36-hole lead after completing his second round early Saturday.
McIlroy was two shots clear with eight holes to play and had his first title in 15 months in his grasp.
Li led by a stroke overnight but wobbled in his final round before a strong finish gave him a three-under-par 69 - secured with a birdie at the last - for a winning total of 265, 23 under par.
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Rory McIlroy may have been satisfied with getting in the mix in Abu Dhabi in his first outing in more than three months but a dose of Dubai disappointment darkened his mood.
The World No 11 came into the tournament off the back of an impressive performance and a third-place finish in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship last week.
"And then just a bogey out of nowhere on 11, it was just a bad nine-iron there, and then the three-putt on 13, those were the key two holes of the tournament really". Made two good birdies.
"This is incredible. I just didn't think I could make that putt on 15".
Like McIlroy said later that he tried his best and had to make Li win it in the end, not gift it to him on a platter. But there were a couple of really poor shots in there that I'd love to have back'.
Respond he did, knocking in four birdies out of the last six holes, to make it his own.
'My feeling right now is that I'm p****d off - sorry, ' he said.
"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".
"I just wanted to keep pulling myself in a position and just not go too far away".
Englishman Tyrrell Hatton finished third after a final round 66 while fellow countryman Chris Paisley shot 69 for his second top five finish in a row following his breakthrough victory in South Africa a fortnight ago.
"It's definitely hard to take right now, that's how I'm feeling, but if someone had of told me at the start of the year you'd finish third and second your first two events, I'd say, yeah, I'd take that".
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