Rory McIlroy is now staring at a historic career victory first heading into the final round DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Not only is McIlroy seeking a fifth victory in a season for a third time in his career but he is just two shots shy in capturing the same European Tour event three times which would be a first for the Holywood professional.
Never before in his now 27 worldwide victories has McIlroy enjoyed such a triple tournament triumph toast.
On moving day, McIlroy brilliantly bounced back from a shock second round 74 to play the golf we’re accustomed grabbing a seventh hole eagle and five birdies in a superb turnaround 65.
McIlroy now heads into his closing event of the year at 13-under par and trailing just two shots behind the leading duo of Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera (69) and Spain’s Jon Rahm (66).
Rahm has the honour earlier this year of winning a second Spanish Open and Irish Open victories and has now put his big frame in the picture to win also a second DP World Tour title in three years.
Lorenzo-Vera, and looking for a first Tour win, found the water off the tee at the last and then three-putted for a bogey.
World No. 2 ranked McIlroy kick-started his round with a pair of birdies and with the highlight clearly eagling the par-5 seventh hole to now have played the hole in four-under after birdies over his opening two rounds.
He then birdied the eighth and with McIlroy also showing his fondness for the 14th and 16th holes to be two-under par on each of the holes for three rounds.
McIlroy is now a staggering 10-under par after the first three days play on the par-5s.
“I got off to a hot start again, 5-under through nine, and the back nine played a little tricky, so you know, to play that bogey-free was nice,” he said.
“I had a few chances that I didn’t quite convert. I probably should have birdied 15 and I would have liked to have birdied the last, but you know, I’ll take it.
“I’m not complaining. It was a good round of golf, and it gives me a good chance going into the final day.”
After the shock of backing-up Thursday’s opening 64 with a day two 74, Mcllroy went straight to the Jumeriah Estates range where he ironed-out the wrinkles in his play.
“Sometimes when I hit a lot of shots into the wind, I get a bit too much on my left side on the way down, and my left knee starts to go forward,” revealed McIlroy.
“My arms get too deep in the downswing and then I start missing it left, basically.
“So, on the range last night, I was just trying to really feel like my left knee gets out of the way so my arms can come down in front of me a little bit more and I can start the ball a little bit more online.
“I just worked on that and thankfully it wasn’t as windy today. Still, I missed a couple of iron shots but I hit some good ones on the way in, which was pleasing.”
Lorenzo-Vera’s 18th hole bogey certainly has opened victory door for Rahm and McIlroy, and with McIlroy not only looking to win a fifth event in a season for a third time in his career but also win the same event for a third time, and what would be another first in his 12-year pro career.
“To win this DP World for a third time would be a nice box to tick,” he said.
“For sure, it is nice to come back to courses that you’re familiar with all the time, and that brings its own advantages, I guess, compared to maybe some of the other guys in the field.
“But yeah, it would be nice. It’s been a great year so far and this is my last event of the year. It would be wonderful going into the break to finish on a high.”