Rory McIlroy Holds Off Patrick Reed To Win Dubai Desert Classic

The four-time Major winner and World No.1 sealed his third Dubai Desert Classic title to get 2023 off to the perfect start

Rory McIlroy fist pumps after winning the Dubai Desert Classic
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy birdied the 72nd hole to beat Patrick Reed by a single stroke at the Dubai Desert Classic to win his 15th DP World Tour title.

The World No.1 got up-and-down from 92 yards on the final hole to win the iconic jug for the third time in his career and taste victory in his first start of a calendar year for the first time in his career.

After taking a three-stroke lead into Monday's final round, he carded a three-under-par 69 to finish at 19-under-par with rounds of 66, 70 and 65 earlier in the week.

Reed charged to the top of the leaderboard midway through the back nine with five birdies and an eagle in his first 13 holes, but a bogey on the 16th dropped him back tied with Rory McIlroy after he was forced to chip out from a pulled drive down the left.

That pegged him back to 17-under-par, and he was unable to capitalise on the drivable 17th following a wayward tee shot, eventually making a good par save.

McIlroy started with eight consecutive pars before three birdies in the space of five holes between the 9th and 13th. He dropped a shot on the par-3 15th but surged ahead once again after finding the edge of the 17th with his drive and two-putting for a birdie to go one clear with the iconic par-5 18th to play.

Playing in the group ahead, Reed found the green in two with a stunning hybrid, towering over the flag to leave around 30ft for eagle. From there he two-putted for the easiest of birdies to card a 65 and force McIlroy to make a four to win.

McIlroy's drive leaked right into rough just lining the water to leave an awkward second shot, and from there he laid up to 92 yards and wedged it to around 15ft before holing a slippery left-to-righter for the title.

With his 15th DP World Tour title and first Rolex Series win, McIlroy wins a cheque of $1.53m and cements his position at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The early week proceedings in Dubai were dominated by talk, and controversy, around Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy's 'exchange' on the driving range where McIlroy appeared to ignore Reed before the American flicked a LIV Golf tee on the ground. Dubbed 'teegate', McIlroy said he ignored Reed due to the LIV subpoena he received on Christmas Eve, with Reed saying the Northern Irishman acted like "an immature little child."

Reed was involved in more controversy on Sunday during the third round when his golf ball got stuck up a palm tree on the 17th hole. Reed and a referee managed to identify it, although there were reports that he was looking up the wrong tree. The 2018 Masters champion maintained that he was "100%" sure it was his ball, with the tournament officials saying in a statement that the referee was "satisfied" with the ruling.

"Using binoculars, the chief referee was satisfied that a ball with those markings was lodged in the tree," the statement said.


  • 1. Rory McIlroy -19
  • 2. Patrick Reed -18
  • 3. Lucas Herbert -16
  • 4. Callum Shinkwin -15
  • 5. Julien Brun -14
  • T6. Thomas Pieters -13
  • T6. Ian Poulter -13
  • T8. Henrik Stenson -12
  • T8. Johannes Veerman -12
  • T8. Marcus Kinhult -12
  • T8. Richard Bland -12
  • T8. Angel Higaldo -12
Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV