Hong Kong: World number two Rory McIlroy said on Sunday he was learning how to win golf tournaments without playing his best, in a way that Tiger Woods did when was at the top of his game.
The 22-year-old US Open champion produced a shot for the ages at the 18th hole to win the US$2.75 million UBS Hong Kong Open and said his recent victories in Asia had shown a new maturity and strength in his game.
As well as the $448,330 collected for his victory at the Hong Kong Golf Club, McIlroy picked up $2 million for winning the unsanctioned Shanghai Masters last month - the largest single prize in golf.
"I sort of experienced the same thing in Shanghai as I did today," the Northern Irishman who started the final round here three-shots behind overnight leader Alvaro Quiros, said. "I really had to fight for it."
"To be able to win golf tournaments when you are not playing your best is what the likes of Tiger [Woods] did week-in, week-out whenever he was winning seven, eight, nine tournaments a year."
"That (is) something that if you want to be a great player, you're going to have to do. I feel as if I am learning to do that and you know this is a great win."
"To come from behind and to draw level after nine holes and then to close it out is something I probably haven't done before."
McIlroy said holing from the bunker for a birdie on the par-4 last hole on Sunday, which capped off a round of five-under 65 for the day and a two stroke victory at the event, was his most exciting moment as a golfer.
"I just hit the perfect bunker shot," he said. "And once it landed on the green it never looked like going anywhere else but into the hole."
"I think you could see how much it meant to me. When the ball went in the hole I think that's the most excited I have ever been on the golf course."
McIlroy had been struggling all week with the after effects of a bug he picked up while on holiday last month in the Maldives with girlfriend and tennis number one Caroline Wozniacki.
He had also spent almost the entire past two months on the road with trips through South Korea, China and to Bermuda.
But there were no signs of lethargy during the final round and McIlroy said he had learned a valuable lesson.
"You won't see me going on a stretch like I have done this year," he said. "That was just me wanting to play so there's no one really to blame but myself in that regard. But I won't do it again."
The victory ensured McIlroy remained alive in the race for the European Tour's Order of Merit and he has now picked up 3,066,605 euros ($4,110,477) for the season to sit in behind world number one Luke Donald of England who has 3,856,394 euros.
Donald chose to skip the Hong Kong event, which is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours, as did Germany's Martin Kaymer, who was second on the list before McIlroy's efforts on Sunday.
All three now head to the season-ending Dubai World Championship, where the winner will receive just over 930,000 euros.
"I had a lot to play for today," said McIlroy. "One of the goals going out was to win this event to keep myself in with a shout of next week."