Rory McIlroy has revelled in beating major US rival Patrick Reed at the Dubai Desert Classic, just days after a snubbed handshake got the golf world talking.

Four-time major winner 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, as much because of the player he defeated as it was the title he won for the third time.

The top-ranked McIlroy overcame a final-round charge from Reed to win, finishing birdie-birdie to shoot a 4-under 68 and win by a stroke from Reed, who shot 65.

McIlroy finished the day on 19-under overall, with Australian Lucas Herbert third at 16-under.

“Mentally, today was probably one of the toughest rounds I have ever had to play because it would be really easy to let your emotions get in the way,” McIlroy said.

“I just had to really focus on myself and forget who was up there on the leaderboard.”

McIlroy and Reed traded verbal blows last week after an interaction at the practice range that saw McIlroy snub Reed, who had gone over to shake the Northern Irishman’s hand.

Harry Diamond, McIlroy’s caddy, shook Reed’s hand before McIlroy himself appeared to completely ignore the American.

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Reed walked away before lightly tossing a tee — reportedly featuring a logo of his 4 Aces team in the LIV Golf league — in the direction of McIlroy, who has been one of the most-vocal critics of the Saudi-run breakaway series.

Afterwards, Reed said it was “unfortunate” that McIlroy did not shake his hand and was quoted as describing his rival as “an immature little child”.

Hence McIlroy’s sense of satisfaction after making the title-clinching putt on the par-5 18th, a hole where he has encountered big problems over the past year.

“This is probably sweeter than it should be,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy started the year with a win for the first time in his career — he has come close numerous times in nearby Abu Dhabi, where he has typically chosen to play his year-opening tournament — and backed up victories at the Dubai Desert Classic in 2009 and 2015.

He decided to take extra time off around Christmas because, in his words, he was “mentally drained” by effectively being an anti-LIV spokesman last year.

However, McIlroy could not escape those issues during his time off.

McIlroy said he was served a subpoena on Christmas Eve from Larry Klayman — an attorney who has filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour and World Tour for suspending players who have signed with LIV Golf.

Reed is not involved in that lawsuit. Klayman also represents Reed in lawsuits filed against a number of media outlets.

“It was a battle all day — honestly, it’s been a battle all week,” McIlroy said.

Players from the Saudi-run series that changed the face of golf in 2022 are still able to play on the tour ahead of the imminent ruling of a British arbiter, who is reviewing whether the tour has the right to issue bans to those members who joined LIV without clearance.

Initial bans were lifted last year by the arbiter, pending a full legal review.