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A rollercoaster year ended on a disappointing note for Rory McIlroy at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai – and it looks like his shirt bore the brunt of his frustrations.

The four-time major champion blew a gilt-edged chance to win the European Tour season finale, faltering badly down the stretch to hand Open champion Collin Morikawa the title.

McIlroy’s troubles began on the 15th when his approach cannoned off the flagstick and ricocheted into a bunker. He failed to get up and down from there, before three-putting at the 16th. 

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When he found water with his second shot on the 18th, his hopes of winning the tournament for a third time were gone.

He ultimately signed for a two-over 74 to finish on 12-under-par – five behind Morikawa who, by contrast, was a model of control and consistency in his six-under 66. 

McIlroy declined to speak to the media afterwards but a photo of him shared on social media appeared to show the extent of his frustration. 

The four-time major champion is seen standing at a window with his Nike polo shirt ripped open. According to those on-site, he tore it on his way to the recorder’s hut.

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McIlroy has endured an uneven 2021. Despite wins in the Quail Hollow Championship and CJ Cup, he was a non-factor in the majors, extending his winless drought in the game’s marquee events into an eighth year. 

He has also struggled for consistency – a fact reinforced by his Strokes Gained statistics – and admitted to losing his way after attempting to emulate Bryson DeChambeau’s in the quest for greater distance off the tee.

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His frustrations were plain for all to see during the Ryder Cup in September where he cut an emotional figure after winning his singles match match with Xander Schauffele on the Sunday.

Last week, he announced his split from coach Pete Cowen, only eight months after teaming up with him.


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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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