Rory McIlroy leads Tyrrell Hatton by one in Abu Dhabi

Four-time Major winner cards a third round 67 to return to the top of the leaderboard

Rory McIlroy leads by one shot heading into the final round in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty

Rory McIlroy leads by one shot heading into the final round in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty

 

Former world number one Rory McIlroy fired a 67 to sit at the top of the leaderboard after day three of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The four-time major winner has not tasted victory for almost 15 months but showed glimpses of his best form as he moved to 13 under at an event where he has finished second four times.

McIlroy has recently fallen to world number six, with Tyrrell Hatton moving into the top 10, and the Englishman was the nearest challenger at 12 under after a 71.

Further down the leaderboard Pádraig Harrington carded a three over par round of 75 on Saturday - he is now two over for the tournament.

Tommy Fleetwood was then at 11 under, a shot clear of Scot Marc Warren and American David Lipsky.

With those four runner-up finishes and three thirds at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy will be the favourite heading into the final 18 holes, but he was refusing to take anything for granted.

“I can’t go into tomorrow thinking it’s my turn,” he told europeantour.com. “I want to make it my turn. I have to go out there and continue to hit the ball like I hit it on the back nine tonight. If I can do that and give myself plenty of chances, I’ll have a real chance.”

The 31-year-old played an excellent bunker shot on the third and a smart approach into the fifth for birdies but gave a shot back on the seventh before making the most of the par five eighth.

He then holed out for an eagle on the 10th but dropped a shot on the 13th before back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th courtesy of some excellent iron play moved him back to the top of the leaderboard.

Hatton started the third round three shots ahead of McIlroy but turned in 37 before taking advantage of the par five 10th and holing from 40 feet on the 17th.

“I was trying my best and obviously one of them days where I didn’t really feel like anything went my way,” he said.

“So I guess you’re always going to have days like that and you just try and get through it and the good thing is that I’m still in contention going into the final round. Will be obviously one shot back which isn’t ideal, but a lot can happen in 18 holes.”

Rory McIlroy leads Tyrrell Hatton by one in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty
Rory McIlroy leads Tyrrell Hatton by one in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty

Fleetwood is a two-time winner of this event, but his chances of a hat-trick looked slim when he was three over after 11 holes on Thursday.

He has dropped just one shot since, however, and a second consecutive 67 put him right in the mix.

“When you’re out there, you keep hitting golf shots and doing whatever you need to do and don’t really think that much about it whether you’re playing that well,” he said. “Really good round of golf. Just happy to be in contention again.”

Warren carded five birdies and a single bogey in his round of 68 and goes in search of a second win in six months after breaking a six-year drought in Austria last season.

Collated third round scores & totals in the European Tour Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship (Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 72):

203 Rory McIlroy 64 72 67

204 Tyrrell Hatton 65 68 71

205 Tommy Fleetwood 71 67 67

206 David Lipsky (USA) 72 66 68, Marc Warren 72 66 68

207 Rafael Cabrera (Spa) 67 67 73,

208 Jason Scrivener (Aus) 67 70 71

209 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 71 71 67, Matt Wallace 68 70 71, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 69 69 71, Wade Ormsby (Aus) 69 70 70, George Coetzee (Rsa) 70 71 68, Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 69 72 68, Chris Paisley 72 68 69, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 66 71 72

210 Victor Perez (Fra) 68 73 69, Lucas Herbert (Aus) 68 68 74, Stephen Gallacher 69 68 73, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 69 71 70, Adria Arnaus (Spa) 74 67 69, Richard Bland 72 69 69

211 Alexander Levy (Fra) 72 70 69, Kristoffer Broberg (Swe) 69 69 73, Romain Langasque (Fra) 67 70 74, Ignacio Elvira (Spa) 68 68 75, Nino Bertasio (Ita) 71 67 73, David Drysdale 73 70 68, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 68 69 74, Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 73 69 69

212 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 70 72 70, Robert MacIntyre 72 69 71, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 68 74 70, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 71 72 69, Jordan Smith 72 71 69, Scott Jamieson 71 70 71, Grant Forrest 72 70 70

213 Andy Sullivan 72 71 70, Aaron Rai 69 72 72, Kurt Kitayama (USA) 68 74 71, Joost Luiten (Ned) 69 70 74, Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn) 71 70 72

214 Marcus Armitage 73 70 71, Danny Willett 71 72 71, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 72 71 71, Antoine Rozner (Fra) 71 72 71, Callum Shinkwin 70 69 75, Rasmus Hoejgaard (Den) 71 72 71, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 71 71 72, Matthew Southgate 74 65 75, Robert Rock 72 71 71, James Morrison 69 73 72

215 Justin Rose 70 72 73, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 68 73 74, Oliver Wilson 70 70 75, Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin) 73 70 72

216 Alexander Bjoerk (Swe) 70 72 74, Soeren Kjeldsen (Den) 71 72 73, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 74 68 74, Calum Hill 72 71 73

217 Lee Westwood 69 73 75, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 71 72 74, Scott Hend (Aus) 71 72 74

218 Justin Harding (Rsa) 73 69 76, Padraig Harrington 70 73 75

219 Sebastian Soederberg (Swe) 69 71 79, Jeff Winther (Den) 74 69 76

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