Friday, 19 March 2010
Dubai Desert Classic Round 2  (Getty Images)
Dubai Desert Classic Round 2 (Getty Images)

Northern Ireland teenager Rory McIlroy carded a third round five under par 67 to maintain his two stroke lead at the delayed Dubai Desert Classic.

The 19 year old grabbed a birdie at the 18th to move onto 17 under par and two clear of in-form South African Louis Oosthuizen, who had briefly trimmed the advantage to one a hole earlier.

The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and Commerical Bank Qatar Masters  runner-up signed for a third round 68 to sit second and a shot clear of Justin Rose (69) and 1997 champion Richard Green (69).

Abu Dhabi Golf Championship winner Paul Casey also picked up a shot at the final green to card a 68 to join another former champion Henrik Stenson (71) at 12 under.

The Dubai based Swede will hope a bogey at the last after dropping his approach into the water and then missing a makeable par putt will not prove crucial in his bid to follow up his 2007 triumph.

After six hours were lost over the opening two days due to early morning fog, McIlroy resumed his third round on the 11th tee on Sunday after opening up a two stroke cushion at the top of the leaderboard with a spectacular eagle at the 10th before bad light stopped play on Saturday.

But the break did not halt the teenager’s bid to claim a maiden professional title as he birdied his first hole of the day although he then had to wait until his last for the second to arrive.

After missing the putting surface with his second shot into the dangerous final green, McIlroy played an expertly executed chip from the thick greenside rough to within two feet for a simple close range conversion.

World number 39 McIlroy has insisted play-off defeats at the European Masters and UBS Hong Kong Open last year will stand him in good stead this weekend as he bids to finally claim a deserved breakthrough win.

The anticipated triumph will also be a timely one after Colin Montgomerie named McIlroy as a potential candidate for Celtic Manor next year shortly after the Scot had been named Europe’s new Ryder Cup captain earlier this week.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MCILROY, RoryNIR18-19
2ROSE, JustinENG18-18
3STENSON, HenrikSWE18-17
T4CASEY, PaulENG18-16
T4KARLSSON, RobertSWE18-16
T4KAYMER, MartinGER18-16
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