Dubai World Championship

Lowry skips school to chase big time

Planet Lowry. Shane celebrates his second European Tour win. Photo Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieShane Lowry is not normally one for changing but his thrilling Portugal Masters victory has convinced him to shelve plans to tee it up in the PGA Tour Qualifying School next week and seek his place in the elite through the top 50 in the world rankings.

Lead Rory not into temptation

Rory McIlroy in action in Dubai this week. Picture Denise Cleary www.golffile.ieRory McIlroy’s race is run for 2011 but what now for the world No 2 and his manager Conor Ridge.

Health hit McIlroy facing multitude of obstacles in Dubai

Rory McIlroy takes a drop on the 18th during the second round of the Dubai World ChampionshipRoll up, roll up as the amazing Rory McIlroy attempts his most difficult feat yet - winning the Dubai World Championship with a suspected case of dengue fever while coming from five strokes behind the longest hitter in the world.

McIlroy in a state of grace

Rory McIlroy threw down the gauntlet to Luke Donald in the first round of the Dubai World Championship. Picture Fran Caffrey www.golffile.ieThe US PGA Championship was a watershed for Rory McIlroy. Okay, the US Open was a true game changer given the way the 22-year old Ulsterman recovered from his back nine “meltdown” at Augusta National in the Masters to win his first major title by the obscene margin of eight strokes.

But since he jarred his wrist at Atlanta Athletic Club and went public with his relationship with world tennis No 1 Caroline Wozniacki, the pride of Hollywood has arguably been the best player in the world.

Weary McIlroy rules out mental warfare

That was then. Rory McIlroy drives at the seventh in the third round of the inaugural Dubai World Championship in 2009. Picture www.golffile.ieRory McIlroy might be suffering from a mystery virus but won’t mentally “bug” rival Luke Donald in their Race to Dubai showdown.

Poulter flipped off; Karlson wins; Kaymer No 1

It wasn’t quite decided by the flip of a coin but it will feel that way to Ian Poulter after he bizarrely lost the Dubai World Championship to Robert Karlsson on the second play-off hole.

McDowell targets world No 1

Graeme McDowell conceded defeat to Martin Kaymer in their Race to Dubai duel to succeed Lee Westwood as Europe’s No 1. But with Westwood now at the top of the world golf rankings, world No 9 McDowell believes he can reach the summit of the game by becoming golf’s top player.

McDowell on the ropes in Dubai

It wasn’t quite a knockout blow but Graeme McDowell had to dig deep into his reserves to remain defiantly upright after Race to Dubai rival Martin Kaymer gave him a first round pasting in their heavyweight duel at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Harrington looking ahead with confidence

Purple reign - Padraig Harrington ended a two-year wait for tour success in MalaysiaPadraig Harrington shook a monkey off his back with his first win for two years and immediately set his sights on a season-ending lucky streak

The Dubliner, 39, confessed he had “the luck of the Irish” as he hit a 69 to cruise to a three-shot victory in the $1.25m Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia for his first tour triumph since the US PGA nearly 800 days ago.

Now he’s hoping his luck has changed after a horror run and he’s gunning to turn a disappointing season into a bumper year by chasing victory in Shanghai, Singapore and Dubai next month.

McIlroy bitten by alpha dog - flesh wound not fatal

He hit every fairway and every green in the final round and lived up to Greg Norman's adage that happiness is a long walk with a putter.

Lee Westwood is European No 1 again and he did it by playing four rounds of almost faultless tournament golf to win the Dubai World Championship by the staggering margin of six shots from Ross McGowan and by eight from Rory McIlroy.

Two bogeys in 72 holes (McIlroy made 7), 25 birdies (McIlroy had "only" 20 and 1 eagle), just six greens missed all week (McIlroy missed 13) .... This was staggering stuff from the 36 year old Englishman.

Late slips costly for McIlroy

Rory McIlroy bogeyed his last three holes on Saturday to leave Lee Westwood with one hand on the Dubai World Championship and the Race to Dubai title.

The Ulsterman was tied for lead with Westwood and six under par for his round through 15 holes before racking up a costly bogey hat-trick from the 16th.

Westwood carded a six-under par 66 to lead by two shots on 15 under from Ross McGowan (66) with McIlroy's 69 leaving him five strokes off the pace alongside Padraig Harrington (69) and Alexander Noren (67).

Desert storm brewing for Westwood and McIlroy

Rory McIlroy pulled his cap down over his eyes at the finish in a gesture that has become a familiar sign of frustration and anger. His caddie JP Fitzgerald sheathed the putter and thought better about saying anything.

The 18th at the Earth courseEnough has been written about McIlroy’s putting this season but back-to-back three-putts for bogey by the Race to Dubai leader at the 14th and 15th - two of the easiest holes on the course - hurt him.

They also killed the momentum he had built up by storming to the turn in 31 and took the pressure off his main pursuer, Lee Westwood, in a money list battle that is unfolding in spectacular fashion in the desert.

McIlroy on Westwood's wheel

Rory McIlroy has a Lamborghini at home and it looks as though Lee Westwood might need a rocket to pass the Ulsterman and win the inaugural Race to Dubai.

Westwood walked away with a two stroke lead over McIlroy following their fascinating first round battle at the Earth Course in the Dubai World Championship. 

Had it not been for a gutsy back nine by the Irish starlet, he could easily be sleeping on a five shot advantage over the European No 1 in waiting.

The 36-year old Englishman is playing it cool, but he knows that losing sight of the Holywood hotshot in his rear view mirror  might not be all that easy.

Harrington finds Henry handball celebrations hard to take

Padraig Harrington confessed he found it hard to take Thierry Henry's celebration of the handball goal that dumped Ireland out of next summer's soccer World Cup.

Henry with Roger Federer and Tiger WoodsThe Dubliner discovered Ireland's fate when he got up on Thursday morning in Dubai and learned how they were controversially eliminated by France in Paris with Thierry Henry setting up the crucial goal by blatantly handling the ball. Ireland lost 2-1 on aggregate after extra time.

Asked about the incident that has become a national talking point, Harrington laughed at first and said: "Surely I am not going to have to comment on that."

Pressed to give his opinion as one of the leading players in a sport that largely polices itself, Harrington said: "The celebration of the cheating was particularly galling and that is as far as it goes.

McIlroy's the man - in every sense

The European Tour can be grateful that Rory McIlroy defused some of the fuss last week by announcing his intention to take up his PGA Tour card next season.

The Holywood star didn’t want to overshadow the flagship Race to Dubai finale but that was never going to happen. This guy is a new breed and he knows what he wants and where to get it.

Like Padraig Harrington, McIlroy gives straight answers to straight questions and his candour is such that he unwittingly says things that would be pure dynamite if they were uttered by more established stars.

Harrington hails phenomenal McIlroy

Padraig Harrington wants to battle red-hot Rory McIlroy for an incredible Irish double in Dubai.

McIlroy had the last laugh at Lough Erne in July. Who will come out on top this time?The Dubliner is gunning for his first tour win for 15 months in the €5m Dubai World Championship at Greg Norman's Earth course.

But he's also rooting for the "phenomenal" McIlroy as the Holywood hotshot battles to capture the inaugural Race to Dubai and become just the third Irish winner of the Harry Vardon Trophy.