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Golf Li triumphs in Dubai as McIlroy loses lead

RORY McILROY made no attempt to hide his frustration after squandering a two-shot lead with eight holes to play today as China’s Li Haotong claimed the biggest win of his career in the Dubai Desert Classic.

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.

And although the four-time major winner birdied the final two holes, Li did likewise under enormous pressure to complete a closing 69 and win by a single shot.

Li’s 23-under-par total is a tournament record and gives him a second European Tour title, as well making him the first male Chinese player to break into the world’s top 50.

Li will also make his Masters debut in April and can become the third straight Dubai champion, after Danny Willett and Sergio Garcia, to claim a green jacket.

McIlroy has now finished third and second in his two starts since calling an early end to an injury-plagued and winless 2017 campaign.

Asked about missing out on a first win since September 2016, McIlroy said: “Yeah, pissed off.”

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