Rory McIlroy couldn't quite seal the deal in Abu Dhabi in his first start of 2015, but the Omega Dubai Desert Classic offered the world's top-ranked golfer sweet redemption when he closed out an impressive victory on Sunday.
It was yet another grand display of golf from McIlroy en route to a final-round 70 that was good enough for a three-stroke triumph over Alexander Noren, though McIlroy didn't boast about the win afterwards, via Golf.com on Twitter:
This win has to be even sweeter for McIlroy given a second straight, one-stroke loss at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. At least McIlroy seemed to take the positives away from falling just a bit short:
After a week off from that tournament to this one at the Emirates Golf Club, it was evident McIlroy was fresh and fit as he displayed phenomenal form en route to the win.
Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel had fun with McIlroy's success and his name, noting the roll he's been on lately:
Stephen Watson of the BBC noted on Twitter that this win put McIlroy in some exclusive company as a Northern Irishman:
Prior to this year's action getting underway, McIlroy seemed confident in his game as it was, via ESPN.com's Bob Harig:
Over the Christmas period I had my first chance to really look back and reflect on the year and even watch a few of the highlights of some of the tournaments that I won, so it was nice to reflect, but I feel 2014 has really set me up for another great year. I feel like I'm coming into this year with a nice little bit of momentum, and my game is feeling good.
Booming, accurate drives and short-iron approaches have afforded McIlroy a bundle of birdie opportunities. When he has his putter working properly as well, McIlroy is almost impossible to beat.
The problem in Abu Dhabi came in the third round, when McIlroy's flatstick betrayed him to the tune of 34 total putts, per EuropeanTour.com. That ultimately placed him too far behind to claim the trophy in that event.
Fortunately, McIlroy had no such problems in Dubai. He shot 66-64-66 in the first three rounds and was able to coast in the final round, though a 70 is hardly a score to be upset about.
McIlroy wouldn't have been blamed for having a letdown this week, or even a bit of a decline in bottom-line performance coming off the season he just had. The Northern Irish superstar won two majors—as promised—PGA Tour Player of the Year honors and locked up the European Tour's Race to Dubai.
Instead, the winner's mentality McIlroy has flexed and shown more often than ever as of late shined through again in the Dubai Desert Classic.
There is now little doubt that McIlroy is the man to beat in golf for the foreseeable future. The uncertain status of Tiger Woods after an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign leaves no one who has proven capable of matching McIlroy when he's at his very best.
Speculation will stir as to which tournament McIlroy will tee it up in after his latest on-course exploits. Almost everything will be a mere precursor to the Masters in April, though, where McIlroy will attempt to complete the career Grand Slam.
If his strong two results across the globe are any indication, McIlroy appears to be on the proper path to notching his next landmark achievement at Augusta National.