Rory McIlroy trails Li Haotong by one in Dubai

Four-time Major winner enjoyed a two-shot lead going into the delayed third round

 Rory McIlroy tees off on the 15th hole during day three of Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy tees off on the 15th hole during day three of Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images

 

Rory McIlroy will go into the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic one shot off the lead after shooting a third-round 68 on Saturday.

The Northern Irishman trails China’s Li Haotong, who carded a 64 to reach 20 under par.

Alexander Levy – who enjoyed a hole-in-one at the fourth – and Haydn Porteous finished the day at 17 under, with Andy Sullivan a shot further back and David Horsey on 15 under. Tyrrell Hatton was among a group of eight players on 14 under.

McIlroy began another day of low scoring by completing his fog-delayed second round with three successive birdies.

That gave him a two-shot lead at the halfway point but he was unable to maintain that momentum at the start of his third round.

Two bogeys on the front nine took him to the turn in 36 but an eagle and three birdies coming home kept him firmly in contention.

“The back nine was good, the front nine not so much,” said McIlroy, a two-time winner of the tournament. “I made a couple of sloppy mistakes on the front.

“I feel like if I play my game I’ll be able to shoot something a bit lower tomorrow, and I think I’ll need to shoot something lower to be able to win.

“Li played really well out there and if he continues to play like that I’ll need to shoot something similar to what he shot today.”

Li, who began his third round three shots behind McIlroy, made a confident start with four birdies in his first eight holes. Three more followed in the space of four holes from the turn and he finished with another at the last.

“When I won [before], it was always [coming] from really [far] behind to win events,” Li said. “I’ve never been in this position but I’m happy to see my game in this shape.

“Hopefully I will make some birdies tomorrow and shoot some low scores.”

Levy, buoyed by his early ace, battled with Li for top spot on the leaderboard amid a run of five successive birdies but bogeys on the 15th and 16th saw him drop back. Despite that, the Frenchman still signed for a 65 after a birdie on the 18th. Porteous recorded birdies on the last three holes to match his score.

Sullivan’s 63 was the lowest third-round score but it was a difficult day for early leader Jamie Donaldson. The Welshman, two off the lead at halfway, carded a three-over-par 75 to slip to 10 under.

SCOREBOARD

(British and & Irish unless stated, par 72):

196 Haotong Li (Chn) 66 66 64

197 Rory McIlroy 65 64 68

199 Alexander Levy (Fra) 67 67 65, Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 66 68 65

200 Andy Sullivan 67 70 63

201 David Horsey 63 70 68

202 Branden Grace (Rsa) 68 65 69, Chris Paisley 65 69 68, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 67 68 67, Jeunghun Wang (Kor) 69 66 67, Tyrrell Hatton 64 72 66, David Lipsky (USA) 69 66 67, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 69 67 66, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 69 69 64

203 Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 67 67 69, Lasse Jensen (Den) 65 68 70, Alexander Bjork (Swe) 65 68 70, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Esp) 66 68 69, Ian Poulter 68 70 65, Thomas Detry (Bel) 68 66 69

204 Brett Rumford (Aus) 68 70 66, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 72 67 65, Tommy Fleetwood 69 69 66, Andrew Dodt (Aus) 67 69 68, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 68 69 67, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 70 64 70

205 Pat Perez (USA) 69 69 67, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 69 68 68, Scott Hend (Aus) 71 66 68, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 67 69 69, Sergio Garcia (Esp) 67 69 69, Alejandro Canizares (Esp) 67 68 70, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 67 69 69, Gregory Havret (Fra) 70 68 67

206 Jason Scrivener (Aus) 70 68 68, Trevor Immelman (Rsa) 69 66 71, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 70 68 68, Jamie Donaldson 62 69 75, Ashun Wu (Chn) 68 68 70, Ashley Chesters 70 69 67, Sam Brazel(Aus)68 70 68

207 Robert Karlsson (Swe) 69 70 68, Andrew Johnston 69 66 72, Ross Fisher 69 69 69, Andres Romero (Arg) 70 67 70, Chris Hanson 67 70 70, Matthew Southgate 68 68 71, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 67 70 70

208 Anthony Wall 63 73 72, Richie Ramsay 70 69 69, Matt Wallace 69 66 73, Adrian Otaegui (Esp) 70 69 69, Nino Bertasio (Ita) 70 69 69, Scott Jamieson 68 70 70

209 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 71 68 70, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 69 69 71, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 71 68 70, Romain Wattel (Fra) 69 70 70, Mikko Ilonen (Fin) 68 70 71, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 68 71 70, Gavin Green (Mal) 70 68 71, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 65 74 70

210 Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha) 68 71 71, (am) Todd Clements 69 70 71, Stephen Gallacher 71 68 71

211 Daniel Im (USA) 68 71 72, Lee Slattery 69 70 72

212 Richard Sterne (Rsa) 70 68 74

213 Matthieu Pavon (Fra) 71 68 74

216 Daan Huizing (Ned) 69 70 77

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