Rory McIlroy wasn’t going to let permutations and possibilities decide his fate in the Race to Dubai, he just decided to be better than everyone else.
The four-time Major winner rallied from behind to win the DP World Championship, taking the Race to Dubai title along with it, by firing a final-round 66 to finish 21-under and nip Andy Sullivan by a stroke.
At even par through four, McIlroy went on a run in the middle of the final round, three straight birdies and four more in a five-hole stretch between 11 and 15.
The victory makes McIlroy the European Tour Number One for the third time; he also earned the honor in 2012 and 2014. It’s his second straight year winning at least three European Tour events, and it’s the fourth time a player has won both the DP World Tour Championship and the European Tour Number One in the same season.
The previous instances were Lee Westwood in 2009, McIlroy in 2012, and Henrik Stenson in 2013.
Sullivan, who finished eighth overall in the Race to Dubai standings, got to witness just how tough it can be to beat a player like McIlroy when he’s n his game. Sullivan recorded just three bogeys over 72 holes, finished 20-under, and still finished second.
He was up by three strokes after six holes when McIlroy bogeyed No. 4, then saw the lead shrink to one at the turn as McIlroy birdied No. 7 and Sullivan bogeyed 8, his first gaffe since the fourth hole on Saturday.
Both men birdied No. 11, but McIlroy tied for the lead with another on 12, then stretched the lead to two strokes with birdies on 14 and 15.
McIlroy birdied 15 three times in four rounds. His only better hole was No. 2, where he was 4-under over the tournament.
The No. 3 player in the world gave a stroke back on No. 17 with a bogey into the water to drop the lead back to one, but Sullivan could not capitalize, parring the final seven holes in a row. He did not record a bogey on the back nine at any point in the tournament.
No one else was really close to the pair of United Kingdom subjects. South Africa’s Branden Grace wound up third at 15-under, but two bogeys in between his five birdies on the front nine dulled the edge of his attack, although his final-round 67 was the third-best score of the day.
England’s Danny Willett, McIlroy’s chief competitor for the top spot, was firing on all cylinders early, 4-under through 10 holes, but collapsed down the stretch with bogeys on 16 and 17 to finish tied for fourth at 13-under with Francesco Molinari, Charl Schwartzel, Emiliano Grillo, Beyong Hun An, and Matthew Fitzpatrick.