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Rory holds his nerve to claim Dubai title

  • Story Highlights
  • Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland claims Dubai Desert Classic title in tense finish
  • McIlroy was winning his first European Tour title after two near misses in 2008
  • Justin Rose finishes a shot behind after closing 67 at Emirates Golf Club
  • McIlroy has been compared favorably with a teenage Tiger Woods
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(CNN) -- Teenage sensation Rory McIlroy claimed his first European Tour title as he held off a world class field to win the prestigious Dubai Desert Classic.

McIlroy holes the winning putt to claim his maiden European Tour title.

McIlroy holes the winning putt to claim his maiden European Tour title.

Earlier in the week McIlroy earned favorable comparisons with world number one Tiger Woods, who is also on the role of honor in Dubai, and showed just why on the final day.

But the 19-year-old from Northern Ireland had to survive a late scare after building up a six-shot lead with six holes remaining at the Emirates Golf Club.

He had reeled off four straight birdies from the ninth, but showed his first signs of nerves by dropping three shots in three holes.

It gave chasing Justin Rose a glimmer of hope and the pair stood on the final tee with McIlroy only a shot to the good.

Former European number one Rose had the chance to force a playoff but missed a 15-foot birdie putt, leaving McIlroy to clinch victory with a four-foot par putt after slashing out from a bunker.

He carded a final two-under 70 for a 19-under total with Rose shooting a 67.

The win takes McIlroy to 16th in the world and makes him the seventh youngest winner in European Tour history after missing out in two playoffs in 2008.

Woods' great friend Mark O'Meara believes McIlroy is better player than the world number one at the same age, but this was furthest from the youngster's mind as he battled nerves in the closing holes.

"You see guys coming down the stretch with a four or five shot lead, and you think it's easy -- but it's not," McIlroy was quoted on the official Tour Web site www.europeantour.com.

"You still have to play the shots, and you still have to hole the putts.

"I got myself into a great position in the middle of the back nine, but then let a few shots slip and Justin birdied a couple as well, so I had to fight back. It was nice to just hold it together on the last and get a great up and down for the victory."

Dubai-based Swede Henrik Stenson (67) finished third at 17 under, with Robert Karlsson (65), Martin Kaymer (67) and Abu Dhabi winner Paul Casey (68) a further shot adrift in fourth.

McIlroy, who had led going into an extended final day after early disruptions for fog, moves into second place in the Race to Dubai which will culminate with a $10 million tournament in the Emirate state in November.

New Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie carded a fine 67 to finish tied for 13th, but will have been encouraged by the showing of many of the men he hopes will form the bulk of the European team at Celtic Manor in 2010, and in particular McIlroy.

"A superstar in the making," he told Sky Sports.

Miguel Angel Jimenez (66) finishing tied for seventh with fellow Spaniard and world number two Sergio Garcia (67) just outside the top 10.

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