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Dubai Desert Classic: Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed and Ian Poulter two back as three share halfway lead | Golf News

Thomas Pieters, Richard Bland and amateur Michael Thorbjornsen share the halfway lead, with Rory McIlroy among the players two back; event going into a Monday finish due to weather delays – watch the third round live on Sunday from 4am on Sky Sports Golf

Last Updated: 28/01/23 2:21pm

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Highlights of the day three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at the Majlis course at the Emirates Golf Club.

Highlights of the day three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at the Majlis course at the Emirates Golf Club.

Rory McIlroy overcame an erratic day off the tee to stay in contention at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, where Thomas Pieters is part of a three-way tie for the halfway lead.

McIlroy only found two fairways during his second round at Emirates Golf Club, although salvaged a two-under 70 to stay within two of pacesetters Pieters, Richard Bland and Michael Thorbjornsen at the weather-delayed Rolex Series event.

Thorbjornsen birdied five of his opening six holes and also chipped at the par-five 18th on his way to a third-round 64, while Pieters made seven birdies on the back nine and Bland completed a second successive 67 to make it a three-way tie at the top.

Miguel Angel Jimenez has a tremendous start to day three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic tournament with birdies on the first two holes of the course.

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Miguel Angel Jimenez has a tremendous start to day three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic tournament with birdies on the first two holes of the course.

Miguel Angel Jimenez has a tremendous start to day three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic tournament with birdies on the first two holes of the course.

Scotland’s Connor Syme is a shot back alongside Adri Arnaus and Marcus Kinhult, while McIlroy is in the large group on players on eight under and within two of the lead as he chases a winning start to 2023.

McIlroy – beginning the day two strokes back – rolled in a 20-foot birdie at the third before having to take a drop from the bushes after an erratic tee shot at the tenth, resulting in him bogeying the par five.

A disappointed Rory McIlroy reacts to his performance on day three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at the Majlis course at the Emirates Golf Club.

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A disappointed Rory McIlroy reacts to his performance on day three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at the Majlis course at the Emirates Golf Club.

A disappointed Rory McIlroy reacts to his performance on day three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at the Majlis course at the Emirates Golf Club.

The world No 1 drained a 33-foot eagle at the par-five 13th and closed out his round with five consecutive pars, keeping him contention to win the event for the third time and first since 2015.

“When you can’t hit fairways around here and the rough is quite thick, it’s very hard to have any control of your ball and get it close into par-fours,” McIlroy said. “Yeah, just a little rusty – need to go do a little work.

Rory McIlroy holes for eagle on the 13th hole to get his third round back on track at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.

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Rory McIlroy holes for eagle on the 13th hole to get his third round back on track at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.

Rory McIlroy holes for eagle on the 13th hole to get his third round back on track at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.

“I chipped and putted it well, and I sort of got myself around the golf course okay. Being able to post a couple of decent scores and at least have a chance going into the last two days, but definitely more negatives than positives and need to go and figure it out on the range.”

McIlroy avoids Reed pairing

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The 33-year-old had looked set to possibly face a third-round showdown with LIV golfer Patrick Reed, following on from their pre-tournament incident on the practice range, although the pair have avoided being drawn together despite both being tied-seventh.

McIlroy has instead been drawn against LIV golfer and Ryder Cup team-mate Bernd Wiesberger, with England’s Dan Bradbury completing that group after firing a round-of-the-day 63, while first-round leader Ian Poutler and fellow Englishman Matt Wallace are among the logjam on eight under.

Nicolai Hojgaard's wayward shot on the 18th was picked up from the hospitality tent by staff but then finally returned to him for a free drop!

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Nicolai Hojgaard’s wayward shot on the 18th was picked up from the hospitality tent by staff but then finally returned to him for a free drop!

Nicolai Hojgaard’s wayward shot on the 18th was picked up from the hospitality tent by staff but then finally returned to him for a free drop!

Another interesting third-round pairings is Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald being grouped with Henrik Stenson, the person he replaced in the role after the Swede elected to join LIV, with Ryder Cup hopeful Tyrrell Hatton also in that threeball.

Some 21 players are within three strokes of the lead heading into the third round on Sunday, with the final round now taking place on Monday due to the lengthy weather delays earlier in the

Watch the Hero Dubai Desert Classic throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Sunday from 4am on Sky Sports Golf, with the weather-delayed final round also live on Monday.




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