China's Li Haotong edges Rory McIlroy for Dubai golf title

Dubai Desert Classic Round 2 updates - McIlroy starts well as Donaldson sets clubhouse lead

Credit the dogged Li, who put together an impressive run of four birdies in his last six holes to take full advantage and become the first Asian to win this prestigious event, the oldest on the Desert Swing.

As good as that was, however, it was not good enough.

Early pace-setter David Horsey was then in sixth place on 15-under, ahead of a clutch of eight players by a single shot, including fellow Englishman Tyrell Hatton and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli. The 22-year old, ranked No 60 in the world, matched McIlroy's closing 69 to maintain his overnight lead and claim the title. That led to a bogey before both players in the final group birdied the 17th, a driveable par-4, to leave Li a shot ahead.

Both players then birdied the last two holes as Li became the first Asian victor of the tournament.

Actually, McIlroy credited the narrow failure to a wayward 9-iron on the par-3 11th - "one of the poorest shots I hit all week" - that prompted a first bogey of the day, and his three-putt for par on the par-5 13th.

Speakig to European Tour Radio after the frustrating finish, McIlroy said: "Yeah, p***** off".

"I didn't expect to play as well as I did last week and it's been nice to continue that into this week", McIlroy said.

From 110 yards he hit it to 12ft and, with his silken, nerveless putting stroke, holed for a new tournament record score of 23 under par and the biggest day of his career.

"The back nine's been good to me this week", said the four-time major victor.

"It was incredible to play with Rory".

'Ask me in a few days and we can talk about the positives to take from here and last week in Abu Dhabi but the competitor in me means it's hard to take right now, ' said McIlroy.

"I'll probably need to play a bit better tomorrow to win, but you know, it's two weeks into the season and I've given myself a second chance to win a tournament". Some people won't be happy with me, but hey, I don't mind if I win the Masters.

And Li seemed to be struggling with nerves, finding sand twice on the opening hole to cough up his lead with a bogey, although he quickly regained his composure and made gains at three and seven to remain level with McIlroy, who also found joy on the same holes. But being in the positions I've been in and having two close calls the first couple of weeks of the year, it's a little hard. Hatton's 66 saw him move to third place on 268, 20 under par.

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