Rueful Rory wishes he could 'get a couple of those holes back'

Mistakes on the 11th and 13th holes left Rory McIlroy frustrated as he reflected on finishing second by a shot at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Rory McIlroy during the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic   -  Getty Images

Rory McIlroy bemoaned two costly holes after giving up a back-nine lead at the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday.

McIlroy ended the final round as he had started it, one behind Li Haotong, as both men carded scores of 69.

Yet the four-time major champion had led by two with eight holes to play, only to lose momentum courtesy of a bogey on the 11th and a three-putt par on the 13th.

McIlroy also dropped a shot at the 16th before he and Li each birdied the final two, but 11 and 13 were the holes that caused the Northern Irishman the most regret.

"Birdieing 10 and going two ahead there with Li making bogey, I thought I was obviously in the driver's seat," McIlroy said in an interview with the European Tour.

"And then just a bogey out of nowhere on 11, it was just a bad nine-iron there, and then the three-putt on 13, those were the key two holes of the tournament really.

"It was just a couple of bad shots, a couple of mental errors, a few tentative putts out there as well. I kept leaving myself in places where I couldn't really have a run at the hole because they were downhill, down grain and down wind, so I didn't really leave it in the best spots to be aggressive with my putts.

"I tried right until the very end and made two good birdies, I made him [Li] win it in the end, which was 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."

McIlroy has now finished in the top three in each of his first two events in 2018.

"If someone had told me at the start of the year, 'you'd finish third and second your first two events', I'd say, 'yeah, I'd take that'," he added.

"But being in the positions I've been in and having two close calls the first couple of weeks of the year, it's a little difficult.

"The competitor in me is very disappointed right now. I wanted to win. I always want to win and I just didn't do enough when I needed to."

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