The Northern Irishman won by three shots ahead of Alex Noren with a final round 70 securing his 10th European Tour title. Six years ago, a teenage McIlroy captured his first professional title at the event and after coming close a couple of times since, the 25-year-old was delighted. World number one Rory McIlroy admitted he was looking for the solid rather than the spectacular as he won the Dubai Desert Classic for a second time. “It is always great coming back here, it is nice to put my name on trophy once again,” he said at the trophy presentation. “I felt like I was finishing second every time I was teeing it up, so it was time for a change, obviously the only way I wanted to go was one better and thankfully I was able to do that today. “I played very nicely all week. I did what I needed to do today to keep my nose in front and be able to win. “I still get nervous, a little tentative, we’ve seen what can happen to big leads. “I was making sure I wasn’t making any mistakes and to play a solid round.” Noren, who played just two events in 2014 due to tendinitis in both wrists, finished second after an impressive six-under final round of 65 saw him leap up the leaderboard from eighth to finish on 19 under par. Noren was not thinking about victory at the start of the day and after missing so much time due to injury of late, the Swede was delighted with his showing. “It was an amazing day, an amazing week,” Noren, who finished ninth at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters last week, told Sky Sports. “I missed it so much it was really nice. I never, ever thought of winning. He (McIlroy) is playing so good, I was trying to get a nice finish. “I just tried to keep making birdies and keep up with the other guys.” Stephen Gallacher, who won the tournament both in 2013 and 2014, failed to replicate the form he showed on the first two days. Gallacher finished with four birdies in the back nine, but dropped shots on the first and 14th meant he finished third on 16 under. England’s Andy Sullivan failed to finish strongly with a bogey on 15 bringing an end to his challenge, while a dropped shot on the last meant he finished in fourth, with a two-under final round of 70. Martin Kaymer was the day’s big mover as he closed with a final-round 64 to jump 30 places and finish level with Sullivan on 15 under par. France’s Gary Stal also finished in fifth after four under on the final day, with Bernd Wiesberger also finishing 15 under. Morten Orum Madsen, who started the day in second, was left ruing a seven on the opening hole and two dropped shots on the back nine as he finished on 15 under. Graeme McDowell closed with a 70 to finish 14 under par, good enough for ninth. His countryman McIlroy never looked like losing control. He only hit four fairways in regulation on the third day, with his superb play with the putter seeing him through. And McIlroy needed his hot club to get through the first unscathed after another loose tee shot, while good work in the sand on the third saw him claim his first birdie of the day on three. The Northern Irishman dropped his first shot in two days on the seventh. The group behind were closing, with Madsen moving back up the field with three birdies while Noren was also moving up the field after four-under-par scores in the opening seven. Another sand save from McIlroy, this time on the 10th, saw him pick up another birdie before another poor approach, this time on 12, meant he had to work hard again to save par. Sullivan birdied 13 and Madsen 14 to keep the pressure on the leader, while Lee Westwood, who began the day in third, was having a nightmare, with a bogey at six, a double bogey at nine and another dropped shot at 12 meaning the end of his challenge. He finished with a level-par 72 to finish ninth. McIlroy’s approach on 13 was far more palatable, as he claimed another birdie to stretch his lead back to five. Noren made birdies at 17 and 18 and a final round of 65 would have been well received after spending so long away from the sport late year. Madsen bogeyed both 15 and 16 to end his challenge and with McIlroy consistently making pars, the title was his. Press Association
On paper, it would appear that the Badger defense had itself a great day against Western Illinois on Saturday afternoon.The Leatherneck offense accounted for exactly three points and three interceptions, put up 246 total yards of offense to the Badgers’ 336, and was generally unable to conjure up any sort of rhythm in moving the football down the field at Camp Randall Stadium.But the consensus among Wisconsin personnel was that the defense could have performed much, much better.”I don’t think we tackled well,” UW head coach Bret Bielema said. “I counted on four occasions — two in the first half and two right away in the second half — where we should have been off the field on third down if we just make the tackles. That concerns me because that is a basic element of football that we’ve got to have instilled in their minds.”Western Illinois’ success on third downs told the story of Bielema’s frustration. UW allowed their Division I-AA opponent to move the chains on eight out of 16 third-down opportunities — a disappointing 50 percent rate.”We want to stop those drives and we want to get the defense off the field, because if we’re off the field, they don’t score points,” senior safety Roderick Rogers said. “We want to keep those drives short and we want to go three-and-out.”On the flip side: While the UW defense allowed Western Illinois to convert on eight of 16 third-down plays, Wisconsin’s offense did one better with a 9-for-16 conversion rate.Badger quarterback John Stocco completed four passes on third downs to move the chains and also scampered for six yards on another conversion.”I think we were pretty good on third downs,” Stocco said. “That’s something that we want to be good at as an offense.”Picks a’plenty: Linebacker Mark Zalewski, safety Joe Stellmacher and cornerback Allen Langford all pulled down interceptions at the expense of Leathernecks quarterback Steve LaFalce.In addition, Stellmacher would have picked off a second pass had UW linebacker Mike Newkirk not inadvertently tipped the ball out of harm’s way, and cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu nearly got into the act late in the game, letting a potential INT slip through his hands.”I had the running back man-to-man, I see the quarterback threw it, it was coming right towards me, and Newkirk just kind of threw his body in there and knocked it down, so it’s kind of disappointing,” Stellmacher said of his chance at a second pick. “But [we] made the play anyways, [and] got off the field.”Stellmacher joked that Newkirk, a second-string defensive tackle, can at least bask in the glory of making his mark on the stat sheet, as he was credited with a defended pass.”He took one away from me, [I’ll] let him treasure that one.”Goal-line stand: The Badgers also held the Leathernecks in check with a stop late in the third quarter, when Western Illinois had a third-and-one situation at the Wisconsin 3-yard line. Defensive tackle Nick Hayden brought down WIU running back Herb Donaldson for a one-yard loss, bringing up fourth-and-two.Then, defensive end Matt Shaughnessy snuffed out a Leathernecks trick play with LaFalce catching a pass from WIU’s Alex Douglas on the left side. Shaughnessy brought down LaFalce for a two-yard-loss, turning the ball back over to the UW offense.”It was just an incredible heads-up play by Matt Shaughnessy, and it’s an example of why we think he can be an exceptional player here,” Bielema said.Quick hits: Isaac Anderson recorded his first career reception. The true freshman out of Minneapolis, Minn., hauled in a 20-yard pass from Stocco on a third-and-six play in the second quarter, good for Wisconsin’s third-longest play from scrimmage in the game … Western Illinois did not produce any passing plays amassing 20 yards or more, and did not run for 10 or more yards on any carry … Stocco’s last completion of the afternoon, a 24-yard touchdown catch by Andy Crooks, was the 400th of his career. Stocco is now third on Wisconsin’s all-time completions list, and stands just 15 catches away from the second-place signal caller Brooks Bollinger … Taylor Mehlhaff, who did not have any field goal attempts in UW’s first win over Bowling Green, connected on both his attempts Saturday, including a 46-yarder at the end of the first half, tying his career best … the attendance at Camp Randall Stadium was announced as 80,845. It was the 19th consecutive sellout for Wisconsin at home.
Munster Junior League Division One champions Clonmel RFC will begin their efforts to play at senior level next season when their Round Robin series of matches kicks-off tomorrow.The South Tipp club will have home advantage when they come up against Connacht champions Connemara with a 2.30pm start.Former Ireland international Denis Leamy has coached Clonmel to a Munster Junior Cup, a Munster Challenge Cup and a Munster Junior League Division One title. Team manager Joe Winston has praised the efforts of the Dualla man in getting the them this far.