Dubai Desert Classic: The roars lift Rory to greater heights

World No 1 takes three-shot lead into final round at Hero Dubai Desert Classic

by

Leslie Wilson Jr

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Northern Ireland's Rory Mcllroy in action during round three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club on Sunday. — Photo by Neeraj Murali
Northern Ireland's Rory Mcllroy in action during round three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club on Sunday. — Photo by Neeraj Murali

Published: Sun 29 Jan 2023, 9:15 PM

Work, work, and more work is the hallmark of success. And perhaps nobody consents to that ethic more than the indefatigable Rory McIlroy, the number one golf player in the world.

Despite spending close to four hours on the course, battling the conditions, hazards, and his own self-believe, McIlry challenges himself further by heading straight to the putting greens or the driving range before he calls it a day.


And the results were illustrated majestically on Sunday at the Emirates Golf Club when the 33-year-old Northern Irishman and four-time Major winner, took a crucial three-shot lead into the champion round on Monday.

But for a bogey on the 18th hole, the same hole that cost him a record-equalling third title 12 months ago, McIlroy would have been sitting pretty with a commanding five-shot lead.


Even so, a seven-under 65 still left him in a position from where he can call the shots on Monday, with the English duo of Callum Shinkwin (67) and Dan Bradbury (68) in hot pursuit.

Reflecting on another good day in the office, McIlroy told the media during a scrum on the putting range: “Obviously got off to a great start with those four birdies in a row. Then hit a little bit of a lull sort of after that.

Rory McIlroy, who is looking for a 15th DP World Tour title, felt he was close to playing his best golf. — Photo by Neeraj Murali
Rory McIlroy, who is looking for a 15th DP World Tour title, felt he was close to playing his best golf. — Photo by Neeraj Murali

"Made a really good par save on 11 that sort of kept my momentum going, and then kick-started again with three nice birdies in a row on 13, 14, and 15.

“It felt like the good golf came in sort of two bursts today, and then the rest of it, it was okay. I held it together,” he added.

"I still don't feel quite in control of my game. But today was much better than yesterday, so that was a positive."

McIlroy has never won the first event in a calendar year but remained hopeful that he could set the record straight in the Monday finish.

"This is my first start of the year,” he said, “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."

McIlroy, who is looking for a 15th DP World Tour title, also told reporters that he felt he was close to playing his best after putting in some extra hours on his driving after Saturday's second round.

“First tournament back out, it shows you what you need to work on," McIlroy said. "So I went to the range last night and hit some balls and tried to straighten the driver out a little bit.

"I hit a few more fairways. I felt like I drove the ball better today. The statistics probably wouldn't say that, but I drove the ball a lot better, which put me in positions to attack and make birdies,” he added.

"It's nearly there. It's not quite there, but I'm making the most of the go shots that I'm hitting and putting well.

"I'm playing really efficient golf right now with the chances I'm giving myself. I'm converting, and that's the reason I'm on the score that I am,” said Rory, who won the Classic in 2009 and 2015.


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