Flawless Fleetwood overtakes McIlroy going into final round in Dubai

Fleetwood one stroke clear of his Ryder Cup team-mate after carding 63 in third round

Ryder Cup team-mates Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy will go head-to-head for the Dubai Invitational title after an enthralling third round in the United Arab Emirates.

The duo’s “Fleetwood Mac” partnership claimed two points from two in the foursomes in Rome last year as Europe beat the United States 16½-11½ but they will be in competition on day four at Dubai Creek Resort, with Fleetwood holding a one-shot lead at the top of the leaderboard.

McIlroy had dominated the first two rounds in the desert, maintaining a two-shot lead earned via an opening 62 despite carding a quadruple-bogey in a 70 on Friday.

But Fleetwood signed for a bogey-free 63 on day three to lead the way at 15 under, one clear of McIlroy, who carded a 67.


“I felt I played very well, got off to the perfect start and got momentum early on, which I didn’t have yesterday,” said Fleetwood.

“I hit a couple of really nice putts early on, was rolling the ball well and hit the greens well. Today they went my way, just a bit of confidence when you start holing some and just get in that rhythm and that flow.”

Englishman Fleetwood quickly wiped out McIlroy’s advantage as he birdied the first, third, fourth and sixth and he led by two with another gain on the 10th.

A hat-trick of birdies from the 12th saw him lead by three but McIlroy – who had given back a gain on the fourth with a bogey on the fifth – made three birdies of his own from the 11th and cut the gap to one on the 16th.

“It was a little bit of a slow start but then I got things going on the back nine,” said the Northern Irishman. “Shot four under on the back to try to keep up with Tommy.

“I played well on that back nine and earned myself a tee time with him tomorrow and it’ll be good fun. I’m looking forward to it.”

Dane Thorbjorn Olesen was at 12 under, one shot clear of England’s Jordan Smith and South African duo Thriston Lawrence and Zander Lombard.

Tom McKibbin carded four birdies on the back nine to card a four-under 67, which moves him into a share of 15th position on six under.

Meanwhile, a birdie on the par-three 17th secured a weekend berth for Séamus Power at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

The Waterford golfer carded a four-under 66 to move to two under for the tournament, seven shots off the leaders.

One of those on nine under is Chinese golfer Carl Yuan, who has taken advantage of Jon Rahm’s departure for LIV Golf.

The 26-year-old shot a five-under-par 65 at Waialae Country Club on Friday to reach nine-under 131 at the midway point, tied for the lead with Austin Eckroat and South Korea’s Byeong Hun An.

Yuan finished 126th in last year’s FedEx Cup standings – one spot shy of earning full status on the PGA Tour for the 2024 season. But shortly after Rahm signed with LIV last month, Yuan was bumped up that key spot.

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