It was always going to happen.

After a week and a bit of storms on and off the course, it came down to two men at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.

Playing in the final two groups, it was Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, and his foe, the world No. 1 Rory McIlroy.

The Northern Irishman holed out from around 15 feet on the 18th hole — his bugbear from last year’s loss to Viktor Hovland and in the third round this time around — but after flirting with the water again, he birdied in style to claim his third Dubai Desert Classic crown on 19-under, Reed — now a flag-flyer for LIV Golf — had to settle for second spot before he heads to Jeddah for the Saudi International.

The American was looking good for at least a playoff after a three-birdie opening nine had eradicated McIlroy’s three-stroke lead coming into the Monday finish at Emirates Golf Club.

An eagle-birdie on 10 and 11 had Reed leading by one before McIlroy pegged him back, playing in the final round.

Reed signed for his 65 and stayed in the scorers’ hut to watch Rory’s last hole. And the world No. 1 ensured there was no extra-time with a cool finish, a 68, a 19-under score, and a clenched fist, knowing the job was done.

“It means a lot,” said McIlroy, as he heard about a triple-crown bonus. “It’s actually funny, Harry said to me, finally we get a gold bib. Obviously I haven’t won one of these [DP World Tour Rolex Series] big ones before,”

Back to the matter in hand, McIlroy knew he was in a fight. -— one he prevailed.

“It was a battle all day. Honestly it’s been a battle all week,” he said. “I really feel like I haven’t had my best all week but I just managed my game so well and played really smart.”

Having found the water on 18 last year and again in the third round this time around, McIlroy knew he got lucky as his ball stopped just short of the wet stuff with his second shot on 18 on Monday.

“Even that second shot at the last there, you know, I was in two minds. I probably could have got to the green but seeing what happened yesterday [when he put it in the water] and what happened last year [ditto], giving myself a wedge to try to get up-and-down to try to get the win.

“I am ecstatic that I gave myself an opportunity on my first week back out. I definitely feel like there’s tons of room for improvement but it’s a great start to the year.

Despite the early storms in the media this week, there were congratulations all round, with Phil Mickelson even getting in on the act.