Saturday, 21 November 2009
Dubai World Championship - Round One  (Getty Images)
Dubai World Championship - Round One (Getty Images)

The battle for The European Tour Number One spot is set to go down to the wire as top two Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood continued their cut-and-thrust today.

With seven holes to go in his third round at the deciding Dubai World Championship presented by: DP World Westwood was 13 under par and one ahead of fellow Englishman Ross McGowan.

But current money list leader McIlroy was only two behind after covering the first 11 holes in four under as well.

After taking a two-stroke overnight lead with a 20 foot closing birdie effort Westwood saved par on the first from almost as far and then rolled in a curling 30 footer only three holes later.

The World Number Five, who topped the Order of Merit in 2000, had to wait until the ninth for his next birdie but it was to be the start of three in a row.

McGowan, who won his first title on The European at the Madrid Masters last month after a third round 60, was in spectacular form again as he went to the turn in 31 and led by two until Westwood hit back.

McIlroy started by missing a five foot opportunity, but hit back with birdies at the second, fifth and eighth to be out in 33 and began the inward half with a 25 footer.

The 20 year old Northern Irishman, trying to be the youngest Order of Merit champion since Seve Ballesteros in 1976, is the one with a lead of more than €128,000.

A Westwood victory tomorrow would earn him €830,675 from the tournament and almost €1 million more for topping the money list.

It looks to have come down to the two of them with German Martin Kaymer and Ross Fisher only two under after rounds today of 72 and 70 respectively.

They were in a tie for 37th, but just to have a chance Kaymer had to finish in the top four and Fisher either first or second.

McIlroy caught Westwood by two-putting the long 14th and making a 30 footer on the next - he was six under for the day - but it was only for a minute.

Westwood was bunkered in two at the 14th, splashed out 18 feet short, but made it to move to 14 under.

McGowan birdied it too to join McIlroy on 13 under and the three of them had had 17 birdies between them during the day - and not one bogey.

That all changed when McIlroy bogeyed the 16th to fall back to 12 under after being fortunate his second shot rolled to the edge of the water and allowed him to chip out.

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