Rory McIlroy has won 16 events since Padraig Harrington captured his third major in 2008. In fact, Irish golf has racked up 44 wins on the world’s main professional tours since McIlroy hit the tour full time eight years ago and with more than a third of the wins going to the curly haired wonderkid from Holywood, it’s clear that bar some unforeseen, knock on effect, the result of the legal action against his former management company, which begins in Dublin on Tuesday, is going to be a very small footnote in his career biography.
A cheque for €378,779 for his 10th European Tour win — he’s now level with Graeme McDowell and has only Darren Clarke (14), Padraig Harrington (14) and Christy O’Connor (24) ahead of him as far as wins on the European Tour are concerned — will matter little to McIlroy in the overall scheme of things either.
In fact, McIlroy has now overtaken Harrington in the European Tour's "Career Money" list and earned €24,303,886 to Harrington's €24,064,761 in 232 fewer events as a pro - 141 to Harrington's 373.
Leading by four shots overnight, a closing 70 was enough to give the 25-year old a three-shot win on 22 under par from Sweden’s Alexander Noren. His recent form guide on the European Tour now reads 1st 1st 1st 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st. He’s 118 under par for his those seven European Tour events, won two majors and a WGC and averaged 67.35. With no one to touch him right now, really does appear that they sky's the limit.
No wonder his High Court action was the last thing on his mind when he faced the press afterwards.
“Let me enjoy this for an hour or two, first,” he told a local reporter with a smile.
He’s got 22 days of legal uncertainty to endure before he heads back to the US for his build up to the Masters at the Honda Classic and needless to say, given his form, he’s the hot favourite to win his third successive major in Augusta and complete the career Grand Slam.
“It's definitely the most consistent,” he said when asked if he was at the peak of his powers. “Yeah, I haven't had a run like this before. I'm not quite sure what it is. It's five European Tour events in the last, whatever; but yeah, am I at the peak of my powers? I'd like to think that I could still get better.
"I'd like to think that I can still improve in certain areas. But right now, I'm very happy with where my game is, and as I said, I feel like each week I turn up, I have a chance to win.”
He will have little time to get better between now and the Masters and it will be interesting to see if he can maintain his current level of play given that he will miss out on practice time due to next week’s High Court case.
“The objective coming to the Middle East was to get at least one win before heading to the States for the big part of the season, I guess,” McIlroy said of his first two starts of 2015. “It's great to get that win and coming off a good performance in Abu Dhabi, as well, I've got some confidence and momentum on my side heading into the next couple months.”
McIlroy’s game is still recognisable as the one that thrilled fans at the Emirates when he turned up in 2006 as a mere 16-year old and carded a pair of 72s to miss the cut by just one shot.
He’s added power and accuracy in spades since then, of course, improved his putting and become a far more canny golfer thanks to his coach, Michael Bannon.
“I think I touched on this at the end of last year, where we still do quite a lot of technical work," he said of the man who has coached him since he was a small boy. "But Michael is a pretty good player in his own right and it's nice to have chats with him about course management, and if he watches me play a tournament, I'll talk about, well, I was thinking about playing this shot into this pin but really I should have been playing this shot.
“Just little things like that, little tiny, minute details not a lot of people would talk about but that he would pick up on. He knows my game pretty well; he's been coaching me for 20 years. I obviously owe a lot of my success to him, and we work really well together and looking forward to catching up with him in Florida in a couple weeks' time to prepare for the start of the tournaments over there.”
How McIlroy’s course management will change at Augusta National remains to be seen but it’s clear that while he has more than enough in his arsenal to win there in a canter, he’s got strategic problems to overcome.
His final round performance in Dubai was al about control and while he followed a birdie at the par-five third with a bogey at the seventh, where he missed the green left, he was never under pressure.
With playing partners Mortem Oren Madsen and Lee Westwood playing poorly — the dane shot 73 and Westwood a 72 to slip back — McIlroy was able to play conservatively and clinch his 10th European Tour title.
A birdie at the par-five 10th all but sealed the title as he moved five clear and when he added another birdie at the par-five 17th, he was able to cruise to the finish.
Graeme McDowell closed with a 70 to share ninth on 14 under on his 2015 debut with Michael Hoey (71) tied 53rd on four under.
Pals Damien McGrane and Peter Lawrie were in the first three ball off the first tee with the Dubliner shooting 70 to the Kells man’s 76.
Lawrie tied for 55th on three under and earned € 6,790 to lie 111th in the Race to Dubai with 16,964 points from his first four starts.
McGrane is 110th with 17,192 — the last counting place for tour cards.
With this win - Rory McIlroy - 2015 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
- His tenth European Tour International Schedule victory in his 145th European Tour event.
- Moves to 631,977 points in The Race to Dubai.
- Extends his lead at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking. He goes to 11.6605.
- His first European Tour International Schedule victory since the 2014 US PGA Championship.
- His second victory in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, following his maiden European Tour triumph in 2009.
- Joins Ernie Els (1994, 02, 05), Tiger Woods (2006, 08) and Stephen Gallacher (2013, 14), as players to record multiple victories in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
- His third European Tour victory in Dubai; They are: 2009 Dubai Desert Classic, 2012 DP World Tour Championship, Dubai and the 2015 Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
- Claims his fourth European Tour victory in his last seven European Tour appearances. Won The 143rd Open Championship, WGC – Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship, in 2014. He was tied second in the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, tied second in the 2014 DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, second in the 2015 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and first in the 2015 Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
- Extends his European Tour record for the most consecutive top two finishes in Tour history to seven, as a result of this victory. (The next best was five consecutive events by Seve Ballesteros in 1988).
- His second victory in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in his ninth appearance.
- Continues with his incredible record in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Here are his last six results. Was first in 2009, sixth in 2010, tenth in 2011, fifth in 2012, ninth in 2014 and first in 2015.
- His winning total of 266 (-22) matches the lowest winning total and in relation to par, by Thomas Bjørn (2001) and Stephen Gallacher (2013), in the history of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
- His winning total of 266 (-22) is the lowest total and in relation to par of the 2015 season, beating the 268 (-20) of Branden Grace (Alfred Dunhill Championship).
- The second European Tour event he has recorded six career top ten finishes in. The first was the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. (Although the Omega Dubai Desert Classic is the first time he has recorded six top ten finishes in consecutive appearances in the same event).
- The seventh of his ten European Tour titles where he has won when leading going into the final round.
- Becomes the third victory this season by a player leading or sharing the lead going into the final round. Branden Grace won both the Alfred Dunhill Championship and Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, won after leading after 54 holes.
- Becomes the sixth different golfer to win three or more European Tour titles in the Middle East. He follows: Ernie Els and Henrik Stenson (both four) Paul Casey, Martin Kaymer and Alvaro Quiros (all three).
- Is now 118 under par for his last seven European Tour events, dating back to The 143rd Open Championship, last year.
- Is now 81 under par for his last six appearances in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
- For his last 24 rounds in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, has been at par or better in 20 of the 24, with a stroke average of 69.
- Since The 143rd Open Championship in 2014, he has played 28 European Tour rounds and has been over par just once. This was a 73 (+1) in round one of the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
- Aged 25 years and 272 days becomes the youngest player to win the Omega Dubai Desert Classic twice.
- Following the US PGA Championship (2012, 14), this victory means the Omega Dubai Desert Classic is the second European Tour event he has won on two occasions.
- The first Northern Irish victory of the 2015 season.
- The 55th Northern Irish win in European Tour history.
- Extends Northern Ireland’s run of consecutive winning years on The European Tour to eight, dating back to the 2008 season.
- Becomes the third Northern Irishman to reach ten or more European Tour wins. He follows: Darren Clarke with 14 and Graeme McDowell with ten.
- Becomes the fourth youngest player to record their first ten European Tour titles. They are: Seve Ballesteros (22), Tiger Woods (24), José María Olazábal (25) and Rory McIlroy (25).