Frustrated Rory left to rue what could have been

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Unfortunately, Pablo Larrazabal’s fantastic victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday will probably be remembered more for Rory McIlroy’s and Phil Mickelson’s glaring mistakes than the Spaniard’s own stellar play.

The two-shot penalty McIlroy suffered on Saturday after taking an incorrect drop and Mickelson’s triple-bogey seven on the 13th after attempting to hit a right-handed escape shot from under a bush were both self-inflicted.

Rory was understandably frustrated to finish one shot behind Larrazabal.

“I can’t describe (how frustrating it is),” said Rory who will have a week off now before playing in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

“I feel like I’m standing here and I should be 15-under par for the tournament and win by one, but that’s the way it goes.

“I played the least shots of anyone this week. I can count it as a moral victory more than anything else.

“It’s a very positive start to the season so I’m not going to let one little negative ruin that.

“I’m driving the ball well, hitting the ball solid and giving myself plenty of chances for birdies. And if I can keep doing that, the wins will come.

“But Pablo played very well. I can’t take anything away from him. When he needed to he hit the shots and the two shots he hit into 18 were straight out of the top drawer, so fair play to him.

“He’s a good guy, one of my closer friends out here and it’s good to see him get the win.”

Mickelson had gone from two shots behind overnight leader Craig Lee - who slumped to a closing 77 - to one ahead with three birdies in 10 holes before the 13th certainly proved unlucky for him.

The Open champion was attempting to hit a right-handed escape shot from under a bush, only to suffer a ‘double-hit’ when his ball struck the bush and bounced back onto his club.

“It never crossed my mind it might double-hit,” the left-hander said.

“I was just trying to dribble it out of the bush, to move it about 10ft and I felt it was worth the risk.

“I wanted to use a lob wedge but had to turn around a four iron as I was having trouble seeing the club at address.

“My two options, to take the ball and go back as far as I want in line with the pin, didn’t give me a shot. It was just bushes extending all the way back and I wouldn’t have had a shot except to go back to the tee box.

“It p***** me off and I played more aggressive. I got refocused and made some birdies and gave myself a chance.

“If Pablo had not birdied the last hole to win, I would have gotten into a play-off, so I give him a lot of credit for finishing the tournament off the right way.”

Mickelson said he could not remember the last time he suffered a double-hit, but added: “I have done it. I have done a lot of crazy s*** over the years.”

Michael Hoey finished joint 10th after carding a final round 73, his worst round of the week.

Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley finished a shot further back on six under in a share of 19th. Darren Clarke slipped back on the weekend with rounds of 72/73 to finish tied for 52nd on level par.

Gareth Maybin wrapped up his tournament with a 73 that left him on four over, one shot ahead of Damien McGrane.