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McDowell and Dubuisson set for duel in the desert

McDowell and Dubuisson set for duel in the desert

Graeme McDowell will be reunited with Ryder Cup playing partner Victor Dubuisson when he takes a one shot lead into the final round of the 2020 Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.

Graeme McDowell

Captain Paul McGinley asked Major Champion McDowell to mentor rookie Dubuisson for the 2014 contest at Gleneagles and the duo went on to take two points from two in the foursomes as Europe romped to a third consecutive victory.

They will be together on the first tee again on day four at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, after McDowell carded a 66 to get to 12 under, one shot clear of Dubuisson who fired a bogey free 65.

Malaysia's Gavin Green was at nine under, two shots ahead of defending champion Dustin Johnson, Italy's Renato Paratore and Frenchman Victor Perez.

It is nearly six years since McDowell claimed the latest of his ten European Tour wins and he has recorded just eight top tens since winning a second Open de France title in 2014.

He has had two worldwide victories in that time, however, including one last season, and showed all the class that helped him win the 2010 U.S. Open Championship as he led after 54 holes for the tenth time in his European Tour career - with five wins from that position.

"We shared a car up to the course this morning and I was chatting with him and I always look out for him, great experiences with him in 2014 at Gleneagles," McDowell said of Dubuisson.

"He's such a great guy, he hasn't had the best form the last few years and I'm really, really happy to see him at the top of the leaderboard and looking forward to being with him tomorrow. It's going to be tough to try and play tough against him but we're both competitors and we'll go out there and try and do our job.

"I always tell my kids we live in a nice house because daddy can putt, that's about the heart of it, really. The putter's been a little ice cold the last sort of two rounds but I got it heated back up on the back nine today and I'm going to have to putt well to have a chance tomorrow."

Dubuisson got as high as 15th on the Official World Golf Ranking in 2015 but is currently 478th, his lowest position since 2011.

That is partly due to him missing all but one event in 2018 with a wrist injury but after only narrowly keeping his playing privileges last season, the two time Turkish Airlines Open champion looks to be near his brilliant best thanks to some old equipment.

"We haven't played together since the Ryder Cup, I'm very happy to play with him tomorrow," he said of his reunion with McDowell.

"I had a long chat with my coach after Abu Dhabi because it was the first time he came to the whole tournament, so he saw me play the whole four days and he said, 'It's not possible, your swing is good. Last year your swing was very good, it's not possible that you hit the ball like this'.

"So I decided to take my old set of clubs that I was using two years ago from TaylorMade and I found my game into the wind again, so I'm quite happy now."

Green led at the turn after birdies on the first and ninth and Perez caught him on the tenth with a third birdie of the day to go with a double bogey on the third but, as they faltered on the back nine, McDowell and Dubuisson thrived.

McDowell holed a 12 footer for birdie on the second, while Dubuisson birded the same hole, rolled his tee shot to four feet at the next and then took advantage of the par five fourth as both men sat within one.

A bogey from the sand at the eighth dropped McDowell back but Dubuisson holed a long birdie putt at the 12th before a stroke of luck on the same hole sent the former flying.

His putt from off the green looked to be going all the way over the putting surface but hit the pin and dropped in, and he followed up on the 13th with another birdie from off the green.

Dubuisson holed a 25 footer on the 14th to share the lead and McDowell joined him from 12 feet before taking top spot on his own thanks to a stunning third to the par five last after a ragged tee shot.

Green bogeyed the 14th and 15th to come home in 37, while Perez double bogeyed the 16th and dropped shots on the 12th, 13th and 17th before hitting back on the last.

American Johnson started his round with four straight birdies but would not make another until the last - with three bogeys in between.

Paratore cancelled out two double bogeys with four birdies to also sit at seven under, a shot ahead of World Number One Brooks Koepka, fellow American and five time Major winner Phil Mickelson, and Belgium's Thomas Detry.

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