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Aberdeen’s Richie Ramsay flourishes in Dubai Desert Classic

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 28:  Haotong Li of China celebrates his birdie and victory on the 18th green during the final round on day four of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club on January 28, 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 28: Haotong Li of China celebrates his birdie and victory on the 18th green during the final round on day four of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club on January 28, 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Aberdeen’s Richie Ramsay finished with a flourish in the Dubai Desert Classic to register his best finish since coming second in last July’s Irish Open.

The 34-year-old shot the lowest round of the final day with a bogey-free eight-under-par 64 to end the day tied sixth on 16 under.

Unfortunately for the three-time European Tour winner, 12 other players finished the tournament on the same total, which meant he pocketed less than would be expected for a top-10 finish.

However, Ramsay, who collected £41,569, was pleased with his week’s work.

He said: “It is great to have a round like that so early in the season because I tend not to be an early-season player.

“This was the first time this season that I was making putts from 10 to 12ft.

“I was really pleased with the round.”

Scott Jamieson (nine under) and Stephen Gallacher (seven under) finished tied 51st and 57th respectively after both shooting closing rounds of 71.

Gallacher said afterwards: “I just couldn’t get any momentum going.”

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy made no attempt to hide his frustration after squandering a two-shot lead with eight holes to play as China’s Li Haotong claimed the biggest win of his career.

McIlroy overturned a one-shot overnight deficit with the aid of three birdies in the first 10 holes at Emirates Golf Club, but bogeyed the 11th and 16th as well as three-putting the par-5 13th for par.

Although the four-time major winner birdied the final two holes, Li did likewise under enormous pressure to complete a closing 69 and win by a single shot.

Li’s 23-under-par total is a tournament record and gives the 22-year-old a second European Tour title, as well making him the first male Chinese player to break into the world’s top 50.

Li will also make his Masters debut in April and can become the third straight Dubai champion, after Danny Willett and Sergio Garcia, to claim a green jacket. McIlroy needs to win at Augusta National to complete a career grand slam.

McIlroy has now finished third and second in his two starts since calling an early end to an injury-plagued and winless 2017 campaign, but will be disappointed at failing to convert a two-shot lead at halfway. Asked his reaction at missing out on a first win since September 2016, McIlroy said: “If someone had told me at the start of the year you’d finish third and second your first two events, I’d take that.

“But being in the positions I’ve been in and having two close calls it’s a little difficult.

“The competitor in me is very disappointed right now. I wanted to win. I always want to win and I just didn’t do enough when I needed to.”

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