McIlroy looks untouchable in winning Dubai Desert Classic
Call him "untouchable," "class," "brilliant" or any other superlative of the sort. They all apply to Rory McIlroy, and perhaps spell bad news for the rest of golf.
If McIlroy's play in the first two events of the year is any indication, then the World No. 1 could have an even better season than last year, when he won the Open Championship and PGA Championship, the WGC Bridgestone Invitational and the European Tour's flagship BMW PGA Championship.
McIlroy was simply in a different league in winning his second Dubai Desert Classic title. The World No. 1 had the tournament wrapped up after three rounds and simply cruised to victory in the final round.
Rounds of 66, 64, 66 and 70 gave McIlroy a 22-under total of 266 and a three-shot victory over Alex Noren.
It was a far cry from McIlroy's first Dubai win in 2009, when he charged to a healthy lead and then only managed to scrape through.
"It's nice to be able to put my name on that trophy again," said McIlroy, who, in his last seven European Tour starts, has won four times and been runner-up three times.
"I felt like I was finishing second every time I teed it up, so it was time for a change," McIlroy said. "Obviously the only way I wanted to go was one better and I was able to do that."
"I was a little tentative over the first few holes. We've seen what can happen to big leads over the past few weeks with Martin (Kaymer) and Charl (Schwartzel) in Abu Dhabi and South Africa, so I was conscious of that and making sure I didn't make any mistakes."
McIlroy now heads to a Dublin courtroom to try to settle his legal differences with former management company Horizon. He'll face less pressure there than he did over 72 holes in Dubai.
Noren back to full fitness
Noren proved his injury woes of last season are behind him with a second-place finish in Dubai. The former Oklahoma State player missed most of last season with tendinitis in both wrists. He made just two starts, his last in the BMW PGA Championship in May.
Dubai was his third start of the season and he's improved each week. He was T-37 in Abu Dhabi and ninth in Qatar.
"I was pretty unsure even two months ago if I was going to play again this early," Noren said. "It's tough when you don't know if the hand is holding up, and that's been a little bit of a problem, but it turned out better than I thought."
Close but no three-peat for Gallacher
Stephen Gallacher was chasing an unprecedented third straight Dubai Desert Classic win. The Scot didn't win, but he gave it a really good try. He finished third at 16 under.
McDowell opens season in top 10
Graeme McDowell kicked off his 2015 season with a tie for ninth. The Northern Irishman and his wife Kristin had their first child last year, and McDowell says a settled home life is just what he needs to succeed over the next five to ten years.
"So with a couple of life changing experiences, but still being able to play the kind of golf that I've been playing, I think it bodes well going into the next five to ten years," McDowell said. "I feel like my personal life has given me the chance to have the space to play as well as I can on the golf course."
Italy's Renato Paratore finished his Middle Eastern swing with a 13th place finish. The 18-year-old then headed back to Rome to complete his final year of high school.
Paratore had to ask for written permission to play in the first four events of the season. His teachers should be pleased with his perfomances. He improved each week, finishing 62nd in the South African Open, 57th in Abu Dhabi, and 38th in Qatar before his top 15 finish in Dubai.
More from Golfweek: