Rory McIlroy watched his 15-foot birdie putt roll into the cup, clenched his fist and let out a roar to celebrate a victory that felt bigger and sweeter than most.
Because of the guy he beat as much as the big title he won.
The top-ranked McIlroy overcame a final-round charge from Patrick Reed to win the Dubai Desert Classic for the third time Monday after a tense duel between players who were involved in a pretournament spat.
McIlroy finished birdie-birdie to shoot 4-under 68 and win by a stroke from Reed, who shot 65.
McIlroy and Reed traded verbal blows Wednesday after an interaction – of sorts – at the practice range on Tuesday that saw McIlroy snub Reed, who had gone over to wish the Northern Irishman a happy new year.
Reed walked away before lightly tossing a tee – featuring a logo of his 4 Aces team in the LIV Golf league – in the direction of McIlroy, one of the most vocal critics of the Saudi-run breakaway series.
Reed said it was “unfortunate” that McIlroy didn’t shake his hand and was quoted as describing McIlroy as “an immature little child.”
Hence McIlroy’s sense of satisfaction after making the title-clinching putt on the par-5 18th.
BOYS’ HOCKEY: Five players scored for visiting North Yarmouth Academy in a prep boys’ hockey game against Hebron Academy in Hebron.
Grey Perham scored in the first period, Dante Ersoni, Daxton St. Hilaire and Gabriel Leclerc added second-period goals, and Nick Pelletier got the NYA’s final goal in the third for the Panthers, who outshot the Lumberjacks 61-25.
Euan Martin stopped 23 shots for NYA.
NFL: Kellen Moore is going from calling plays for Dak Prescott to Justin Herbert.
The Los Angeles Chargers didn’t waste any time in reaching an agreement with Moore to be their next offensive coordinator. The announcement came less than 24 hours after the Dallas Cowboys said Moore would not return.
Moore had spent the past eight seasons with the Cowboys, including the past four as offensive coordinator. He signed with Dallas in 2015 as a player and then joined the coaching staff in 2018, going from Prescott’s backup to his position coach.
• San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy tore a ligament in his throwing elbow, putting his status for the start of next season in question.
A repair of the elbow typically would lead to Purdy being sidelined for six months, which would mean he could return close to the start of training camp. A reconstruction would likely sideline Purdy into the 2023 season.
U.S. WOMEN: Midfielder Sam Mewis has undergone a second knee surgery and is unlikely to be available to play for the United States at the Women’s World Cup this summer.
Mewis, who also plays for the Kansas City Current in the National Women’s Soccer League, first had surgery on her right knee in August 2021. But she required another surgery last week, she announced on social media.
The loss is a blow to the United States because the 30-year-old Mewis is considered one of the best players in the world at her position. Mewis is also expected to miss the upcoming NWSL season with the Current.
NWSL: The Orlando Pride have named former professional goalkeeper and U.S. Marine Haley Carter their vice president of soccer operations and general manager.
In the newly created position with the team, Carter will oversee all soccer operations, including the coaching staff and scouting, player safety and performance.
Carter, 37, is well known in the soccer community. She served as an assistant coach for the Afghanistan women’s soccer team and was instrumental in helping those players evacuate the country in 2021 after the Taliban takeover.
She was a goalkeeper over four years at the U.S. Naval Academy before spending eight years in the Marines, including two deployments during the Iraq War.
She spent three seasons as a backup goalkeeper with the NWSL’s Houston Dash, but never appeared in a game. She later served as a consultant for the club.
RANKINGS: Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open championship returned him to a rather familiar spot: No. 1 in the ATP rankings.
His four-place rise from No. 5 to replace Carlos Alcaraz at No. 1 is the largest jump to the top spot in the 50-year history of the computerized rankings for men’s tennis.
Aryna Sabalenka’s first major title moved her up from No. 5 to a career-best-equaling No. 2 in the WTA rankings, behind only three-time major champion Iga Swiatek.
Ons Jabeur, twice a finalist at Slams in 2022, went from No. 2 to No. 3, followed by No. 4 Jessica Pegula, No. 5 Caroline Garcia and No. 6 Coco Gauff.
Alcaraz slid to No. 2. He had become the youngest man to be No. 1 when he took over at age 19 after winning the U.S. Open last September. Alcaraz missed the Australian Open because of a leg injury.
Rafael Nadal, who hurt his left hip flexor during a second-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald of the United States, dropped from No. 2 to No. 6.
Tsitsipas went from No. 4 to No. 3 because of his run in Melbourne; he would have been No. 1 for the first time if he had managed to win the title. Casper Ruud, a two-time Grand Slam runner-up who lost in the second round to Jenson Brooksby of the United States, went from No. 3 to No. 4. Andrey Rublev is No. 5 after getting to the quarterfinals.
OBIT: World champion halfpipe skier Kyle Smaine died after getting buried in an avalanche in the mountains of central Japan over the weekend.
The U.S. Freeski team posted on social media about the 31-year-old American’s death. Smaine, who lived in Lake Tahoe, California, recently posted that he was taking the trip to ski in the backcountry of the Nagano prefecture to enjoy the “unbelievable snow quality.”
His wife, Jenna Dramise, also posted on Instagram, saying “tonight I hope to ride some pow or bikes with you in my dreams.”
There had been heavy snowfall in the area at the time of Smaine’s trip, and authorities had issued avalanche warnings.
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