McIlroy opens up three-stroke lead at Hero Dubai Desert Classic

Rory McIlroy heads into Monday’s final round in a strong position to win a third Hero Dubai Desert Classic title after firing a sensational third round 65 to open up a three-shot lead.

The World Number One began the day two shots behind the halfway co-leaders but opened his third round with four successive birdies to hit the front at Emirates Golf Club.

The 2009 and 2015 champion was caught at the summit after making eight straight pars from the fifth, but bounced back with a hat-trick of birdies at the 13th, 14th and 15th before another gain on the 17th handed him a huge lead.

But after hitting his approach at the 18th into the water, he finished with his only bogey of the day to go into the clubhouse on 15 under par, three clear of Englishmen Dan Bradbury and Callum Shinkwin.

“I love this golf course, I love this tournament,” said McIlroy.

“I’ve won here a couple of times. You know, this is my first start of the year. I don’t think I’ve ever won in my first start of the year. I had plenty of chances at Abu Dhabi down the road over the years, and never quite got it done. So, tomorrow is a nice opportunity to try to do something that I’ve never done before.”

Reigning Joburg Open champion Bradbury, playing alongside McIlroy on Sunday, made five birdies and one bogey in his 68, while two-time DP World Tour winner Shinkwin shot five birdies on the back nine in his 67.

Last week’s winner Victor Perez was among the seven-strong group another shot back on 11 under after his bogey-free 66.

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