Tommy Fleetwood tops Rory McIlroy with birdie-birdie finish to win 2024 Dubai Invitational

What a way to start 2024 on the DP World Tour.

The European-based circuit was back in action this week at Dubai Creek Resort with the 2024 Dubai Invitational, a no-cut, 60-player field event that come Sunday featured a three-way fight for the win.

Thriston Lawrence took the clubhouse lead at 18 under with a bogey-free 7-under 64 in the final round, but it was Rory McIlroy (67) who had all the momentum on the back nine after five birdies over his final eight holes. The four-time major champion stood on the 18th tee with a one-shot lead over Ryder Cup teammate Tommy Fleetwood (67) and proceeded to rinse his tee shot in the water left of the fairway, which led to a costly bogey that tied him with Lawrence at 18 under. Just as he did on the 17th, Fleetwood birdied the last to win the tournament by one at 19 under.

The victory is his seventh on the DP World Tour and first since the 2022 Nedbank Golf Challenge.

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“It’s great, that winning feeling is amazing, and it’s been a really cool week. Felt like I played better and better throughout the week,” said Fleetwood. “Had a great day yesterday, and then today, playing with Rory and coming down the stretch in contention and trying to win a golf tournament was really, really cool.”

“It’s always very special when you play with one of your friends, one of the best players in the world. Challenging yourself against those guys, like I said just before, Rory’s been a very, very supportive influence on me over the past, since I’ve been him, really, but since we’ve been close,” he continued. “I’ve watched him do amazing things down the stretch in golf tournaments, and today was my turn.”

Despite the disappointing finish after starting the event with a 9-under 62 on Thursday, McIlroy said his first start of the year was “really positive.”

“I think first week back out, I think you’re going to expect some of those sloppy mistakes, and unfortunately for me, those mistakes came at the wrong time today,” said McIlroy, referencing his water ball on the 18th tee. “But you know, I’ll reflect on it and learn from today, and there’s still a lot of good stuff in there. But just need to tidy up some of the edges, and if I do that, I feel good going into next week.”

The DP World Tour will remain in the UAE for another week with the 2024 Hero Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club, Jan. 18-21.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek