McIlroy and Donald set for Dubai finale
DUBAI (AFP) –
It will be a head-to-head clash between the world No.1 and No.2 on Sunday’s final day of the $8million DP World Tour Championship after Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald opened up a three-shot lead at the top of the leaderboard.
At the Earth course of the Jumeirah Golf Estates, the world’s top two ranked players shot matching rounds of five-under-par 67 each and were tied at 17-under par 199.
The South African duo of world No.6 Louis Oosthuizen (68) and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (69) were tied for third place at 14-under par 202, while their compatriot Branden Grace was another two shots behind at 204 and tied fifth with Netherlands’ Joost Luiten.
Donald has now gone exactly 100 holes without a bogey at the Earth course – a streak that started from the ninth hole of his second round last year. Today, he went out in 32 and made two further birdies on the back nine.
“Again, another solid round and in a great position. It will be a fun end to the season. Obviously playing with Rory, No.1 and No.2 in the world, and the last round for both of us in 2012,” said the Chicago-based Englishman.
“I played a very solid. Picked off the par-5s and made a couple other birdies. Very much in control of the ball and it’s always enjoyable to play this game when that happens.
“The streak is a little hard to fathom even for myself. That’s some good going. It’s something I’ll store away in the memory banks and use to my advantage down the road.”
McIlroy, who said he was again feeling unwell this morning, did his bulk of scoring in the back nine, coming in in 31 shots.
When asked about Donald’s streak, McIlroy quipped: “Well, if you look at it logically, it means he’s due a bogey! So hopefully, that may be the case.
“But I am looking forward to it. I think everyone was looking forward to No1 and No2 duel tomorrow, and that’s the way it’s panned out.
“I know I’m excited about it, and I’m sure a lot of people are. So, it will be a great way to finish the 2012 European Tour season.”
And while McIlroy said he was hoping to take advantage of his phenomenal length off the tee, Donald said he was not even going to try and compete with the 23-year-old in that area of the game.
“I guess you have to sort of feel like you’re taking advantage of it. There’s no point in hitting those big drives up the middle of the fairway if you can’t make birdies from them,” said McIlroy, who has won four tournaments this year.
“I’ve driven the ball really well this week and hopefully I can continue to do that tomorrow and give myself a little bit of an advantage off the tee.”
Donald, who is looking to win his fourth title of the year, said: “I know my own game and I know it is different to Rory’s. He’s a power player and obviously he’s got a great short game, as well. I can’t go out and try to hit the ball harder or anything like that. I just have to play my own game and not get ahead of myself.”
India’s Jeev Milkha Singh carded the lowest round of the day – an eight-under par 64 that matched the course record.
Singh later dedicated his round to his 76-year-old mother, Nirmal Milkha Singh, who has been in the ICU the last two days back home in Chandigarh after falling down and smashing her knee and the fibula.
“She really is a braveheart,” said Singh who made nine birdies and a bogey. “She told me to go out there today and play well, and I said, yes, let’s try to give it a good shot and I did.”
The tournament is the season-ending championship on the European Tour and only the top-60 players in the Money List qualify for it.