RORY McIlroy hooked his drive into water at the final hole to allow a resurgent Tommy Fleetwood pinch the Dubai Desert Invitational with a dramatic birdie-birdie climax on Sunday.
Fleetwood’s threes on No’s 17 and 18 gave him a winning -19 total, but after matching his friend’s birdie three on 17, McIlroy stood on the 18th tee a shot in front of his pursuers with only one hole left.
However, he pulled his tee shot into the drink and his seven-iron in left McIlroy too much to do to save par. Fleetwood, meanwhile, split the 18th fairway and a nine-iron to 14 ft gave him the opportunity to overtake the Irishman, which he gratefully accepted.
The Englishman entered the final round in the United Arab Emirates with a one-shot lead but found himself one behind McIlroy stood on the 18th tee before the Holywood man made a crucial error with the driver.
It was a topsy turvy end to a rollercoaster day for McIlroy, who surged back into contention with three successive birdies on 11, 12 and 13.
Then remarkably he bogeyed the par 3 14th after three-putting from two feet. He drilled the 180 yard approach to a couple of feet for a potential fourth successive birdie to take the lead but he pushed his first effort past the hole and missed the one back.
It was a dramatic final day all round. McIlroy needed something special to kick-start his challenge and he produced it with successive birdies on the 11th and 12th to get to -3 for the day to stand just a shot behind leader Fleetwood.
Lawrence finished with a 64, while England’s Jordan Smith was at 16 under, one shot clear of former Open champion Francesco Molinari.