Rory McIlroy won his first professional tournament after narrowly avoiding disaster in the final few holes of the Dubai Desert Classic.
The Ulsterman had a comfortable six-stroke lead, but a string of wild shots allowed England’s Justin Rose to close the gap to one heading down the 18th.
Rose saw his birdie effort go agonisingly close before McIlroy completed an excellent up-and-down following an adrenaline-pumped approach over water that had left him in a tricky bunker.
McIlroy, 19, became the seventh youngest winner in European Tour history, and the win propelled the youngster up to 14th in the world rankings.
“This win has definitely moved me up a step and I just want to keep getting better and better,” said McIlroy.
“Your success only makes you more motivated to do better. I have become a very good player, but I still have a lot of years to progress and I just want to keep improving and hopefully one day I will be able to compete with Tiger (Woods).”
McIlroy lost play-offs at the European Masters last year and the Hong Kong Open on this season’s Race to Dubai, but after opening up the back nine with three birdies Mclroy looked to be in cruise control with the rest of the field battling it out for second.
But an eagle from Rose and three bogeys from McIlroy set up a tense finish, and the 19-year-old was relieved to get over the line “It has taken monkey off my back, having lost in play-offs,” admitted McIlroy.
Elsewhere, Henrik Stenson (67) finished third at 17-under, with Robert Karlsson (65), Martin Kaymer (67) and Abu Dhabi champion Paul Casey (68) a shot back in fifth.