DUBAI: World No. 1 Rory McIlroy produced a stunning birdie blitz to put himself in a strong position to clinch his third Hero Dubai Desert Classic title, taking a three-shot lead into the final day.
In front of thousands of fans at the Emirates Golf Club, the four-time Major champion showed the competition why he is the top-ranked player in the world with an impressive 65 to finish -7 for the day and -15 overall through three rounds.
Beginning the day on 8 under, McIlroy got off to a flyer with four consecutive birdies, which saw him storm up the leaderboard. The 33-year-old also made three straight birdies in the back nine on the 13th, 14th and 15th as well as the 17th, but a bogey on the final hole denied him a flawless round.
Despite the finish, McIlroy feels confident he can continue his good form on Monday. “It’s my first week back out, and I have a chance to win, and it’s sort of what I wanted to do when coming here,” he said.
“I think tomorrow will show me where my game is, and I’m in the final group with the chance to win the tournament, so I’m excited to see what happens. I’m feeling better about my game than I was at this time last night.”
Behind the Northern Irishman are English duo Dan Bradbury and Callum Shinkwin, tied in second on -12.
Following his flawless 63 in Round Two to rebound from posting 73 in the opening round, Bradbury continued his good form to shoot 68, with five birdies on Sunday.
The 23-year-old said: “At the start of the day, I would have taken this position and I played some really good golf and I’m very happy overall. A bogey on the eight and knowing you’ve got the nine holes coming up is not ideal as it’s one of the hardest holes on the course. I’m just going to play my game, and Rory’s the best player in the world and today he showed why, and I can only do what I control.”
For Shinkwin, a score of 67 in a round featuring five birdies including back-to-back on 17th and 18th in the last nine saw the Englishman leap up to the top of the leaderboard alongside Bradbury.
Victor Perez, the winner in Abu Dhabi last week, is part of a seven-group tied for fourth place, which includes overnight leader Richard Bland and Patrick Reed.