Dubai Invitational as it happened: Fleetwood beats McIlroy with birdie on final hole

McIlroy has five birdies on the back nine but a costly drive into the water at the last surrenders lead



Tommy Fleetwood -19 (F)

Rory McIlroy -18 (F)

Thriston Lawrence -18 (F)


Rory McIlroy: “For the first week back out, it was a positive week. When I look back, water with an iron on the front 9, three putt from short and a water ball at the last. Sloppy mistakes, unfortunately they came at the wrong time. Rough around the edges and need to sharpen around the edges for next week.

“I wanted to try to turn one over to carry the bunker at the last, a bad swing. A couple of mental errors today, that hopefully I will clean up for next week.

“It was a great day, I’m really happy for Tommy, he’s played incredible golf in the last year without getting a win, hopefully he kicks on from it. It was a good battle, hopefully I have many more in the next year.”

Here is Philip Reid’s report, goodbye!


A long sloping putt for McIlroy, not easy to get down in two. It’s very solidly hit to close but it’s going to be a bogey at the last. Fleetwood has a putt to win it all.

Birdie for Fleetwood! Holes the sloping putt. He’s won it, McIlroy is beaten!

The costly shot for McIlroy:

That and the three-putt from short range among a series of brilliant shots along the back 9. That one will sting, but well deserved from Fleetwood who birdied the final two holes to win it.

It’s Fleetwood’s first win since November 2022.


Oh no. The rollercoaster continues, disaster for McIlroy, who appears to be in the water off the tee. Fleetwood rips his drive down the middle.

So it’s 151 yards for McIlroy after a drop. Up and down for a par to force Fleetwood to make a birdie to tie. A bogey to tie Lawrence in the clubhouse and leave it up to Fleetwood. He selects an 8 iron, wants it to go, leaves it on the green but well short of the hole, 40-50 feet up the hill.

A 129-yard approach for Fleetwood, 9 iron is well hit and he’s given himself a chance from 16 feet.


McIlroy’s in the right rough at the 17th, just avoids the bunker at the short par 4. Not ideal. Fleetwood takes an iron and makes the fairway. McIlroy birdied this hole on Thursday, but parred on Friday and Saturday.

It’s 109 yards for McIlroy, wedge and it’s brilliant! Landed it perfectly and rolls up to 5 feet! That to take the lead.

Birdie for Fleetwood! From about 20 feet, he moves back to 18 under. Gutsy putt.

All on McIlroy now... Birdie for McIlroy! Straight in the middle. He takes the lead outright for the first time today!


It’s do-or-die time and McIlroy hits another great iron at the 16th, 192 yards to 10 feet, another birdie chance. Fleetwood can’t get it close on the way in, and he’s 30 feet for birdie. Lawrence has ripped his drive down the middle at the last.

Lawrence’s approach finds the back edge of the green but a tough birdie putt from there. He leaves his birdie putt short and he’ll post 18 under in the clubhouse.

Fleetwood’s rolled off the green, his chip is clumsy and he has a tough par save. McIlroy’s putt for birdie... slides by. Missed chance. Fleetwood misses the par putt, poor bogey down the stretch. He drops out of the lead.


Fleetwood goes just to the left of the green on 15. McIlroy hits a brilliant iron from where he was, great recovery and sets up a decent birdie chance. Meanwhile, Lawrence hits a super wedge to close on the 17th and he has that to tie Fleetwood.

Great effort by Fleetwood, he nearly holes it for birdie.

Birdie for McIlroy! Wow, what a bounce back, superb. The smile is back. We’re back tied at the top.

Birdie for Lawrence too! Three-way tie at the top.


McIlroy hits a 3 wood into the rough down the right at the 15th hole. Has to make sure his head doesn’t go down now.

This was all McIlroy had left for birdie and ended up with bogey. A tremendous error:


Fleetwood has done the same thing as Lombard did from that bunker on the right, left his shot way short. Advantage McIlroy on this hole. No birdie for Fleetwood, his putt went straight left, just a par.

Birdie for McIlroy! Straight in and three birdies in a row. He’s tied for the lead.

Lawrence didn’t have much of a shot in the rough and the trees so hits it into the bunker on the left at 15.


Another brilliant approach by McIlroy! A stunning 8 iron at the par 3 14th to that 5 or 6 feet range again. Fleetwood in danger of being run over here by the flurry of birdies. He hits the middle of the green but a much longer distance than Rory.

Oh dear, he misses the birdie putt! Bad mistake, tried to hit it firm and knocked it quite a bit past. And he’s missed the par putt! Bogey for McIlroy! Three putts from 5 feet, would you believe it?

Lawrence saves par at the 15th, important save after being out of position.


Fleetwood’s 3 wood is wayward, close to the water with his approach to the par 5 but has found the bunker. 232 left for McIlroy into the wind. It’s a lay-up with a short iron though, not like him. Although he laid up yesterday and made birdie so may find it suits him. It turned out to be a good decision as it’s a superb wedge to 6 or 7 feet!

Lawrence’s drive is well down the right on the 15th.


A disastrous 10 minutes for Lombard continues as he hits it into the water on the 14th.

Now for the par 5 13th, 564 yards into the wind. McIlroy’s drive is down the middle, not his Sunday best for distance but still in good position. Fleetwood with a great drive down the fairway.

A long-range birdie putt from Lawrence on 14 gets one against the grain and he joins McIlroy at 17 under! Lombard’s woes continue as he double bogeys and moves to four shots back.


Fleetwood’s lag putt goes a 4-5 feet past, still work to do to make par.

Birdie for McIlroy! Rory with a long putt up the hill and holes it! Big smile as he makes it two birdies in a row to go second and move within one of the lead. Fleetwood makes the par.


McIlroy misses the fairway on the left at the 12th, well down there though. A 481 yard par 4. Fleetwood is farther to the left.

Great approach by Lawrence at the 13th with his third shot to the par 5 sets up a birdie chance, but he misses. Lombard from the bunker in two leaves his shot well short, but still an outside chance for birdie. He flies the putt way past but gets his par.

Fleetwood from 175 yards hits a solid iron to the middle of the green from the rough. McIlroy goes for the pin, dead aim but can’t get it to stop and maybe 25 feet for birdie.

Meanwhile, Francesco Molinari just misses a hole in one, inches away.


This was McIlroy’s only drop shot of the front nine, which has proven costly so far:

Fleetwood from 115 hits a nice wedge, 15 feet. McIlroy to pitching range hits a lovely shot to 5 or 6 feet for birdie! Vital he gets that at 11.

Birdie chance for Lawrence is straight in, he joins Lombard at 16 under.

Fleetwood’s putt doesn’t keep his line and chance for McIlroy to narrow the gap and he does. Birdie for McIlroy! Goes to -16.


Fleetwood’s long bunker shot is superb. Big swing and again stone dead, an easy birdie to stretch his lead. McIlroy’s pitch isn’t the best, caught the downslope and couldn’t stop it, rolls off the green. His belly wedge had a chance but ends up short and that’s a costly par. Fleetwood taps in to get to 18 under.

Fleetwood’s drive is down the middle with a wood, McIlroy takes out the big dog and rips it down the middle and long at the 11th.


Just a fairway wood for McIlroy at the par 5 10th off the tee but can’t make the fairway. Lie doesn’t look too bad though, Fleetwood also in the rough a few yards back. Rory disappointed with that one. Ahead, Jordan Smith hit a wood into within 10 feet for eagle, so shows the potential the hole has for scoring.

Some 283 yards for Fleetwood with the wind at his back, but catches the front bunker. 277 yards for McIlroy with an iron. McIlroy goes well left. Only 1 fairway found today so far for Rory, needs to start making fairways.

Meanwhile, a tasty chip-in for Lombard at the 11th! He moves back into second place.


McIlroy hit the ball 300 into the wind at 9th hole, just in the semi rough. Fleetwood 10 yards shorter and has a 9 iron into the green which he pulls short into the bunker. Below his feet from 133 yards with a wedge, McIlroy powers it through the rough to just off the back of the green, 20 feet left for birdie from the fringe.

Fleetwood’s bunker shot is immaculate to gimme range. McIlroy’s putt is just short to the right. Front 9 then of 34, one under for the day, still two back of Fleetwood

Zander Lombard has made a slight mess of the par 5 10th hole, way left with his long approach then still not on the green with the next one, although he can putt it. Lawrence birdies the 10th to join McIlroy at 15 under.


Hello and welcome to live coverage of the inaugural Dubai Invitational at Dubai Creek in the United Arab Emirates on the DP World Tour. Rory McIlroy led for most of the tournament, but Fleetwood overtook him yesterday with a superb 63. Starting the day one ahead of McIlroy, Fleetwood has increased the lead to two thanks to two birdies to get to 17 under after 7 holes.

McIlroy has had two birdies too, but bogeyed the 6th hole after driving it in the water. The Fleetwood-McIlroy party has been disrupted by South African Zander Lombard, who has birdied five of his first eight holes to move within one of Fleetwood, although he bogeyed the 9th to move back to a tie for second place with McIlroy.

It is McIlroy’s first tournament of the year, he will play again in Dubai next week at the Dubai Desert Classic before a long stint on the PGA Tour.

Tommy Fleetwood -17 (8)

Zander Lombard -15 (9)