New Season, New Goals But Sadly Same Abu Dhabi Disappointment For McIlroy.

A new year and new season goals but sadly the same old disappointment for Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

McIlroy stumbled his way to final round 72 and a distant five shots at 13-under par behind Englishman Tyrrell Hatton.

So much for Hatton’s newfound ‘Angry Golfers’ social media image as he became Europe’s happiest golfer winning at ease by four shots thanks to a closing 66 for an 18-under par tally on the National course in the Abu Dhabi capital.

Hatton, 29, captured his 10th pro career title and jumps to No. 5 in the world and keeping McIlroy at No. 6.

“It’s surreal to be honest, even knocking the putt on 18 to win it doesn’t seem like I’ve won the tournament,” said Hatton.

“It’s amazing as I always love starting my season in Abu Dhabi and to know have my name added to the trophy with so many other champions before me is a huge honour.”

Jason Scrivener celebrated Australia Day two days earlier with easily the bigger prize cheque of his pro career storming home with a 10th hole eagle and five birdies for a closing 29 and a score of 66 to grab second place on 14-under par.

McIlroy was a distant third at 13-under and only one of two players finishing inside the top-10, the other being two-time former Abu Dhabi champion Tommy Fleetwood, and not to break 70 over the final round.

McIlroy’s finish is now the eighth seventh occasion in 11 Abu Dhabi appearances he’s left the UAE capital with a top-three finish.

It’s also now been 448-days and 19 events, both on the PGA and European Tour’s, since McIlroy last tasted success in the far off Far East.

McIlroy went into the last day of his first event of the year leading by a shot at 13-under par and then after back-to-back birdies the elbowed his way to a two-shot leading cushion.

He headed the fourth hole, and for all intents and purposes, McIlroy was going to shoot something like a 66 and toast a runaway success.

It all turned pear-shaped with a first three-putt of the week at the fourth leading the eighth dropped shot of his week but then when McIlroy bogeyed the eighth, and after a wild drive left, it opened the door for Hatton and the Englishman needed no invitation.

McIlroy said: “I played the opening three holes well today but I felt there were a few putts today where the wind affected the ball maybe more than the last couple of days.

“That was the case on four with the three-putt while the bogeys around the turn didn’t help as I was in good position on 10 and Tyrrell was outside of me making his putt for birdie and I missed my putt for eagle.

“That was a huge momentum keeper for him while I bogeyed the next, and then it was just hard to get back into it.

“I don’t feel as though I played great this week, as I was sort of managing my game this week but it was nice to get a competitive week under my belt and know where my game is and what I have to do to keep on improving.”

As for the positives he’ll take now to the US West Coast for Thursday’s starting Farmers Insurance Open he said: “I felt for the most part of the week my short-game and my putting was pretty good.

“I scrambled well and had some pretty good approach shots, especially last night coming down the last few holes.

“There were parts of rounds where I got the driver going a little bit but there is sometimes where I will have a few holes like that and others when it gets away from me, so just a little more consistency and being able to replicate the good shots hole-after-hole and day-after-day, so that I can put four rounds together”.


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