Rory shrugs off ‘sloppy’ mistakes: 3-putt from 2 feet, water balls

Rory shrugs off ‘sloppy’ mistakes: 3-putt from 2 feet, water balls
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Rory McIlroy called them sloppy mistakes, and he chalked them up to rust.

Two tee balls in the water, including at the last, and a three-putt bogey from 2 feet easily proved the difference Sunday in Dubai as McIlroy, in his first start since the DP World Tour Championship last November, finished one shot shy of Dubai Invitational winner Tommy Fleetwood.

“First week back out, I think you’re going to expect some of those sloppy mistakes, and unfortunately for me, those mistakes came at the wrong time today,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy, who made a quadruple bogey on the par-3 eighth hole during Friday’s second round at Dubai Creek but otherwise had carded just a single bogey in 54 holes, began Sunday’s final round a shot back of Fleetwood. But after birdies at Nos. 3 and 5, McIlroy pulled iron off the tee at the par-4 sixth and found the water.

He bounced back with three consecutive birdies, at Nos. 11-13, to draw even with Fleetwood, and he then stuck his tee shot at the 180-yard 14th hole to 2 feet. However, McIlroy whiffed on two putts before holing out for bogey.

Still, McIlroy stepped on the tee at the par-4 finishing hole a shot clear of Fleetwood. But again, McIlroy fumbled, overcooking a draw with the driver and rinsing his second tee ball of the round. He’d shoot 4 under 67, the same as Fleetwood, but finish a shot back of Fleetwood’s 19 under.

“I tried to hit a tee shot on the last; I probably wanted to hit a different shot because that was what was most comfortable, but I tried to go with the shot that I feel like I should hit, and then I wanted to try to turn one over because it was the only way that I was going to be able to carry the bunker on the right, too,” McIlroy explained. “Just a bad swing at the end there. And then just a little sloppy, a lack of concentration with the tee shot on 6 in the water, and then the same thing with the putt on 14 as well. Just a couple little mental errors in there that hopefully I’ll clean up for next week.”

McIlroy is slated to remain in Dubai for next week’s Dubai Desert Classic, a tournament he’s won three times, including his first DPWT win in 2009 as well as last year’s edition. McIlroy said earlier this week that he planned to play at least eight times before April’s Masters.

By then, he hopes the sloppy mistakes will be behind him.

“I’ll reflect on it and learn from today, and there’s still a lot of good stuff in there,” McIlroy said. “But just need to tidy up some of the edges, and if I do that, I feel good going into next week.”

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