By Fatiha Betscher in Dubai
Rory McIlroy is just one round shy of ending his season with back-to-back victories and becoming the first to win three DP World Tour Championship titles at Jumeirah Estates in Dubai.
McIlroy holed a superb birdie putt at the last in a round of 67 to end the day at 14-under par and one clear of England’s Sam Horsfield who shot a 69 to be at 13-under par while Scot Robert MacIntyre bogeyed the last for a second day running in a 67 to be sharing third place at 12-under with Swede Alexander Bjork (69).
McIlroy arrived back in Dubai after capturing the CJ Cup in Las Vegas and is now staring at a 30th pro career victory in Dubai and, if successful, he would be alone with wins at the Tour’s season-ender.
Rors winning in his last start @PGATOUR
— Fatiha (@TOURMISS) November 20, 2021
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” he said. “I’m right where I want to be. I want to be contending on Sundays in golf tournaments, and feel like I’m back to playing the way I should and the way that will get me back contending. I’m excited. I’m excited to go out there and try to pick up another one.”
Waiting for McIlroy after his round was long-time coach, Michael Bannon with McIlroy heading to the clubhouse again stopping to sign a few autographs for fans along with a few snaps.
However, McIlroy’s start in the third round was moving in the wrong direction when he flew the green at the first in taking a bogey ‘5’ to be three-over for two holes if counting the double he took in ending day two.
Though McIlroy was soon muscling his way back towards the lead thanks to birdies at the second and third hole while he birdied the sixth and ninth holes to be three-under for his round and looking for all intentions to regain the lead.
McIlroy did that with birdies at 11 and 13 before coming unstuck in rocks on the edge of the island green-like 17th that left he and caddy, Harry Diamond pondering their options.
“Harry was pleading with me not to hit it. Just go back, we can make four, we can make four at the last,” said McIlroy smiling.
“It was reminiscent of when I missed the second hole in Boston right a couple years ago when I was playing with Tiger, and I was trying to hit it out of the hazard, similar sort of thing and went straight into the water. Harry and I were both thinking of that when we were looking at it.
“I just thought if I got enough on it, hit a descending blow on it would basically hop up and do what it did. I thought the best I could do was in that far trap but it just stopped short of that.
“Then I thought I made three with the chip shot, and I said to Collin walking up the last, “I don’t know whose 3-wood would have been luckier, yours or mine.” He made a lucky one yesterday.
“So, it was an important ‘4’. Kept some of the momentum going, and hit two good shots on the last and it was nice to make a birdie ‘4’.”
Shane Lowry ended his day with a one-under par 71 posting four birdies, a bogey and an eighth hole double-bogey but in sharing fifth place at 11-under, the former Open Champion knows he remains very much still in the winning picture.
“I fought hard today but then I had an awful middle of the round, and I felt I did really well to fight my way back into it,” he said.
“I don’t how that putt on the last hole missed but I still have a chance to win the tournament. Obviously, I am going to need a low score tomorrow but I am playing well enough but for the three holes in the middle of the round today, I was pretty solid.”
And we need no reminding how low Lowry can go on the Earth course when he produced a closing round 63 in 2017 to come within a shot of winning.
Sharing fifth place with Lowry is fellow Open Champion Collin Morikawa who signed-off for a 69 with the American projected to create his own slice of history and capture the European No. 1 crown.
- Full scoring HERE