Stenson wins in Dubai as McIlroy falls just short

McIlroy targets green jacket as Shane Lowry moves into top 50 with a 66 and fifth-place finish

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off during the final round of the World Tour Championship golf tournament at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photograph: Yoshua Arias / EPA

Sweden's Henrik Stenson successfully defended a title for the first time in his career after a thrilling finish to the DP World Tour Championship on Sunday.

Stenson carded a closing 70 at Jumeirah Golf Estates to finish 16 under par, two shots ahead of world number one Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup team-mates Justin Rose and Victor Dubuisson. Ireland's Shane Lowry finished a shot further back in fifth to move into the top 50 in the world and take a massive step towards securing a Masters debut next April.

Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello held a two-shot lead with seven holes to play only to bogey the 12th and run up double bogeys on the 16th and 17th after finding water on both occasions.

Shane Lowry of Ireland and his caddie Dermot Byrne on the 18th green during the third round of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Stenson had also found trouble on a rollercoaster back nine, hitting his tee shot out of bounds on the 11th to gift playing partner Cabrera-Bello that two-shot advantage, but a brilliant tee shot on the par-three 17th produced a tap-in birdie to reclaim the lead.

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McIlroy and Rose had missed birdie putts on the 18th from near-identical positions, while Dubuisson had to settle for a birdie after almost holing out from a greenside bunker.

After six weeks off because of his ongoing legal battle with former management company Horizon, McIlroy admitted to feeling a little undercooked on the course.

“I didn’t have my best stuff this week but I’m proud that I still gave myself the chance to win the tournament,” he told Sky Sports.

Asked for his highlights of the year, the Holywood golfer added: “I think two big highlights for me have been the Open Championship at Hoylake, to win that Claret Jug is something I have dreamed about since I was a little boy, and then being part of a Ryder Cup team that won a third in a row (against the USA).

“I always say that I am very proud of my achievements as an individual in golf but I always feel I have the most fun whenever we win a Ryder Cup, so hopefully there’s more of that to come as well.

As for next season, McIlroy only has one thing on his mind.

“Green jacket! That’s the only one left to complete the collection. I’ve got a chance to complete the career Grand Slam at 25, something I never thought would be possible, so I’m going to work very hard and make sure I’m ready to go for April.”

Graeme McDowell finished two under after a level-par 72, with Michael Hoey 10 over thanks to a 77.