McIlroy ready to pounce on victory as Dunne cut in Dubai

Bernie McGuire
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McIlroy ready to pounce on victory as Dunne cut in Dubai

Rory McIlroy is in hot pursuit of his first win in over a year as he heads into the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic just one shot off the lead.

McIlroy struggled to find any rhythm over his opening nine holes but recovered well over an inward half of 32 to fire a four under par 68 that gives him sole possession of second place on 19-under-par.
It was a high, towering 7-iron to the par-5 10th that turned his fortunes around, Rory setting up the simplest of eagles after having some strong words with himself before the turn.

Rejuvenated, he took advantage of the par-5 13th , picking up another gain, before hitting a sublime pitching wedge stone-dead on the par-4 16th for birdie number three on the round.
He found trouble off the tee on the reachable par-5 18th but a brave pitch shot over the water from 50 yards was followed by a confident stroke of the putter as McIlroy reduced Haotong Li’s lead to one with a fine finish.
Speaking afterwards, McIlroy seemed convinced that his game is in great shape and is hopeful that his front nine wobble will be the only lull in an otherwise great week:
“Hopefully that’s the bad one out of the way,” he said, despite shooting a 68! “I didn’t get off to too bad a start, just a couple of loose ones. Missed a short one on 4 and made bogey on 8. That wasn’t too good.
“But to come back with a 5-under back nine was good. It was good to knock that birdie in at the last and stay within one of Li.

“I’ll probably need to play a bit better tomorrow to win, but you know, it’s two weeks into the season and I’ve given myself a second chance to win a tournament.”
And the game plan for tomorrow?
“Go out and try and make as many birdies as possible. Scores are so low out there. I think it might be a bit windier tomorrow and that might play a factor. But I think with the greens being quite firm, just hit the ball in the fairway, something I didn’t do in Abu Dhabi in the final round last week.

“So if I can put the ball in the fairway tomorrow and give myself chances to stop it on the greens, you know, hopefully I’ll do okay.”
McIlroy will have to catch Li Haotong who takes a slender a one-shot lead into the final round of the Classic at Emirates Golf Club.
The Chinese star fired a 64 to get to 20 under and will be aiming for not just a second European Tour victory on Sunday but also the new low record to par, set at 22 under by Thomas Bjørn in 2001.
“I’ve never been this this position before so it’s going to be fun out there tomorrow,” said Li. “Hopefully I can do my best out there and have some low scores.

“I just want to play by myself and play my game. I thought if I just stayed patient, I’ll play good. So I just stayed patient all day.”
With the second round suspended last night, play resumed early morning with Paul Dunne, having started the tournament so brightly with a 66, falling victim to the weekend cut with a disappointing 74.

Round three scores
196 H Li (Chn) 66 66 64,
197 R McIlroy (Nir) 65 64 68, 
199 H Porteous (RSA) 66 68 65, A Levy (Fra) 67 67 65,
200 A Sullivan (Eng) 67 70 63,
201 D Horsey (Eng) 63 70 68,
202 T Olesen (Den) 67 68 67, B Grace (RSA) 68 65 69, R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 69 69 64, D Frittelli (RSA) 69 67 66, T Hatton (Eng) 64 72 66, D Lipsky (USA) 69 66 67, C Paisley (Eng) 65 69 68, J Wang (Kor) 69 66 67,
203 L Jensen (Den) 65 68 70, T Aiken (RSA) 67 67 69, I Poulter (Eng) 68 70 65, T Detry (Bel) 68 66 69, A Björk (Swe) 65 68 70, M Jiménez (Esp) 66 68 69,
204 A Dodt (Aus) 67 69 68, T Fleetwood (Eng) 69 69 66, H Stenson (Swe) 70 64 70, B An (Kor) 72 67 65, B Rumford (Aus) 68 70 66, M Kaymer (Ger) 68 69 67,
205 S Hend (Aus) 71 66 68, D Burmester (RSA) 67 69 69, P Perez (USA) 69 69 67, G Havret (Fra) 70 68 67, S Garcia (Esp) 67 69 69, N Colsaerts (Bel) 69 68 68, A Cañizares (Esp) 67 68 70, E Molinari (Ita) 67 69 69,
206 A Chesters (Eng) 70 69 67, J Scrivener (Aus) 70 68 68, T Immelman (RSA) 69 66 71, S Brazel (Aus) 68 70 68, A Wu (Chn) 68 68 70, M Kieffer (Ger) 70 68 68, J Donaldson (Wal) 62 69 75,
207 R Karlsson (Swe) 69 70 68, A Romero (Arg) 70 67 70, C Hanson (Eng) 67 70 70, M Southgate (Eng) 68 68 71, A Johnston (Eng) 69 66 72, B Wiesberger (Aut) 67 70 70, R Fisher (Eng) 69 69 69,
208 R Ramsay (Sco) 70 69 69, A Wall (Eng) 63 73 72, N Bertasio (Ita) 70 69 69, S Jamieson (Sco) 68 70 70, A Otaegui (Esp) 70 69 69, M Wallace (Eng) 69 66 73,
209 M Korhonen (Fin) 68 71 70, R Wattel (Fra) 69 70 70, S Sharma (Ind) 69 69 71, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 71 68 70, G Green (Mas) 70 68 71, M Ilonen (Fin) 68 70 71, L Bjerregaard (Den) 71 68 70, T Pieters (Bel) 65 74 70,
210 S Gallacher (Sco) 71 68 71, P Khongwatmai (Tha) 68 71 71, T Clements (am) (Eng) 69 70 71,
211 L Slattery (Eng) 69 70 72, D Im (USA) 68 71 72,
212 R Sterne (RSA) 70 68 74,
213 M Pavon (Fra) 71 68 74,
216 D Huizing (Ned) 69 70 77,

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