Rory McIlroy lost his lead.
Then he lost it.
In a bizarre scene on Sunday during the DP World Tour Championship, McIlroy tore apart his golf shirt following a final round in which he lost his one-shot lead entering the day and tumbled to a tie for sixth. The incident was first reported by the Telegraph’s James Corrigan, and you can read his report here.
Seeking his third victory in the European Tour’s season-ending event, and second overall following what he termed earlier this week as a “year of exploration,” McIlroy unraveled shortly after putting out for bogey on the 18th on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates, his third bogey in four holes. On his way to signing for a two-over 74, Corrigan reported, McIlroy ripped his shirt, and the tear left his chest exposed in parts.
From there, Corrigan reported, McIlroy was driven away and skipped television interviews.
McIlroy’s collapse began on the 15th, where he suffered an unfortunate break. Tied at that point with eventual winner Collin Morikawa, and left with just a short wedge into the par-4, McIlroy hit the pin with his shot, and his ball kicked backward and into a greenside bunker. He bogeyed after failing to get up and down.
“Oh, what a bad break,” an announcer said on the Golf Channel broadcast. McIlroy deeply sighed.
Two holes ahead, Morikawa birdied the par-3 17th on a 20-foot putt, and he tacked on another birdie on 18, completing a five-birdie-over-seven-hole finish. McIlroy, meanwhile, three-putted from 30 feet on 16 for another bogey, and he parred 17.
On the par-5 18th, McIlroy sliced his tee shot; needed to hit a provisional, which he hooked into the water; and found the first, only to hit that one, too, into the drink. He finished with a six, and the rage was on.
Morikawa’s win gave him not only the victory, but the top spot in the season-long Race to Dubai, the first time an American has claimed the honor. For McIlroy, the finish caps a wild two months for the four-time major champion. At the end of September, he lost his first two matches at the Ryder Cup and was benched at the biennial event for the first time in six appearances, only to come back and win his Sunday singles match and give an emotional interview afterward.
“I’ve never really cried or gotten emotional about what I’ve done as an individual; I couldn’t give a s***,” McIlroy said on NBC amid tears. “This team, to what it means and what it’s part of, all that is just phenomenal. As I said, I’m disappointed that I didn’t contribute more this week, but in two years’ time, we’ll go at it again. I love being a part of it, and I can’t wait to be a part of more.”
After a few weeks off, McIlroy came back to win the CJ Cup in October, his second win on the PGA Tour this season. He’s scheduled to play next at next month’s Hero World Challenge.
“Getting into contention in one major this year isn’t good enough for me,” McIlroy said ahead of this week’s tournament. “I’ve done way better than that before and I know I can again, especially with how I’m playing and feeling like I’ve got my golf game back, basically. So I’m excited for those four events next year and excited about the road ahead because I really feel like I’m on the right path.”