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Li Haotong Takes Down Rory in Dubai

Li now inside the world top fifty (Photo: Getty Images)
Chinese golfing stocks are at an all-time high following the superb one-shot victory by 22 year old Li Haotong at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

With the women's World No.1, Shanshang Feng and four of the leading five at the recent Asia Pacific Amateur Championship all Chinese, the victory by Li continues the pro game's rise in China.

Not only did Li win, he outfought one of the game’s superstars in Rory McIlroy, a player looking to win the event for the third occasion, overcoming a two-shot deficit early in the back nine to birdie four of his last six holes including a crucial ten footer for the tile at the last.   

There was a two-shot gap to England’s Tyrell Hatton who joined the fray when he birdied six of his first 14 holes but was unable to finish in the manner of Li and McIlroy.

Li moves inside the top 50 in the world but as a result of his 3rd place finish at the Open Championship last year he already has an invite to the Masters in two months time and so gets the chance to elevate his impressive game even further.

When asked how and if this win would change things, Li responded; “For sure, definitely, because last year I've been playing very decent, very solid. I had probably a few times a few chances to catch a trophy but unfortunately not. Especially last week, missed the cut, and was a little bit hard time for me since last week, and just so fresh and just get me in very good position.

“It's definitely going to give me a lot of confidence for next few events, rest of the year. Especially for Masters. Never been there before. Looking forward to those big events.”

Li moves to second position behind Tommy Fleetwood in the Race to Dubai standings.

McIlroy was frustrated at letting such a good opportunity slip through his grasp and didn’t hold back.

“Yeah, pissed off,” he said. “I mean, birdieing 10, going two ahead there with Li making bogey, thought I was obviously in the driver's seat and just a bogey out of nowhere on 11, just a bad 9-iron there.

"But you know, from being two ahead, standing on the 11th tee, to being, you know, level going into 16, I just, yeah, I just, I don't know, it was a couple of bad shots, a couple of poor decisions, a couple of mental errors, a few tentative putts out there, as well.

"I kept leaving myself in places where I couldn't really give it a run at the hole because they were downhill, downgrain, downwind. So I didn't really leave it in the best spots to be aggressive with my putts.

“But tried until the very end. Made two good birdies. Made him win it in the end, which was, you know, all I could do, and he played very well on the way in, birdieing three of the last four. I just wish I could get a couple of those holes back.”

Australia’s Jason Scrivener, who only two months ago won his very first event as a professional when successful at the NSW Open in Sydney, led the Australians when he tied for 6th after a strong finish to the event, earning €47,000 for his efforts.

Jason Scrivener's recent good form continues.

Sam Brazel was the next best of the Australians when he put together a strong weekend to finish tied for 22nd, Andrew Dodt was 29th, while Scott Hend and Brett Rumford were 37th.

The European Tour now moves east to Malaysia for the Malaybank Malaysia Championship before heading to Perth.

SIGNATURE HOLE: 7TH AT MIDLANDS (VIC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

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