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Saturday, 27 January 2018
Day 3 Highlights - 2018 Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Li Haotong will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic but he will have two-time winner Rory McIlroy breathing down his neck at Emirates Golf Club.

The Chinese fired a 64 to get to 20 under and will be aiming for not just a second European Tour victory on Sunday but also the new low record to par, set at 22 under by Thomas Bjørn in 2001.

McIlroy was not always at his brilliant best in round three but a back nine of 32 saw him sign for a 68 as he aims to equal Ernie Els as a three-time winner at this event.

Alexander Levy and Haydn Porteous were at 17 under, a shot clear of Andy Sullivan and two ahead of David Horsey.

"I've never been in this position before so it's going to be fun out there tomorrow," said Li. "Hopefully I can do my best out there and have some low scores.

"I just want to play by myself and play my game. I thought if I just stayed patient, I'll play good. So I just stayed patient all day."

McIlroy had played the remaining seven holes of his second round in five under in the morning to lead by two and he briefly had a three-shot advantage after getting up and down following a booming drive down the second.

Li holed a confident putt on the first for a birdie before taking advantage of the par five third, and when McIlroy bogeyed the fourth after missing the green off the tee, the lead was down to one.

A stunning approach to the fifth handed Li another birdie and when he repeated the trick on the eighth with McIlroy surrendering a bogey after a poor chip, the 22 year old had a two-shot lead.

Levy birdied the third but better was to come as he aced the fourth from 171 yards with a nine iron to get to 13 under. The hole-in-one was the second of the week after Matthew Southgate needed just a single blow on the seventh in round two, and third of the season.

I've never been in this position before so it's going to be fun out there tomorrow - Li Haotong

Levy holed from the fringe on the ninth to edge closer to the leaders and when he birdied the tenth after very nearly holing his eagle putt, the Frenchman was Li's nearest challenger.

A nice tee-shot into the 11th handed Levy a share of the lead and he recovered from a poor first shot on the next to hole a monster putt and sit at the top of the leaderboard on his own.

Li took advantage of the par five tenth and put his tee-shot on the 11th to eight feet to reclaim top spot but Levy made it five birdies in a row on the 13th to get back into a share.

Li also made the most of the par five to edge ahead on his own again and with Levy going bogey-bogey on the 15th and 16th, he was in control.

McIlroy had put his second on the tenth to ten feet to set up an eagle, and a birdie on the 13th meant he was alone in second.

The four-time Major winner moved closer to the top with an approach to six feet on the 16th and was replaced at 17 under by Levy and Porteous who both birdied the last.

Five birdies and a bogey had the South African back in the pack after 15 holes but a birdie-birdie-birdie finish has given him a chance on Sunday.

Both of the leading duo then birdied the last to edge away from the pack and set up an intriguing Sunday.

Sullivan birdied the second, fifth, sixth and ninth, with a bogey on the eighth to turn in 32, and when he added further gains on the tenth, 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th and last he was right in the mix.

Horsey was 15 under after a 68, a shot clear of Rafa Cabrera Bello, Dylan Frittelli, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton, David Lipsky, Thorbjørn Olesen, Chris Paisley and Jeunghun Wang.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LI, HaotongCHN18-23
2MCILROY, RoryNIR18-22
3HATTON, TyrrellENG18-20
4LEVY, AlexanderFRA18-19
5PAISLEY, ChrisENG18-17
T6RAMSAY, RichieSCO18-16

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