Rory McIlroy started the day 10 shots behind leader Cameron Young.
With 18 holes left at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club, McIlroy trails by only two. He shot 9-under 63 in the third round Saturday, moving into a tie for second at 12-under alongside Adrian Meronk.
McIlroy’s round was the best of the day… by four shots. His best shot was his last, an eagle putt from the fringe on the par-5 18th.
“I was walking up with the putter in my hand, and as I got closer to the ball, I saw that there was a lot of fringe to go through,” McIlroy said. “And I said to Harry, like I sort of want to chip it but the lie wasn’t great. I could just see the club bouncing. I was like, I’ll just sort of, I guess, ride my luck with the putter, and it came out perfectly. And as soon as it got on the green, it actually wasn’t as fast as I thought it was going to be once it got on the green. And it was tracking perfectly. Obviously a huge bonus for something like that to go in.
“But you know, for the rest of the day, I played some very, very good golf. Definitely better than I played the last couple of days and nice to get myself right back in the tournament.”
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) January 20, 2024
McIlroy went out in 5-under 30 before adding two more birdies and the eagle on the back nine.
McIlroy won the Dubai Desert Classic last year and has had plenty of success playing all over the world thanks to his incredible consistency. What is he most proud of during that time?
“I think the fact that I turn up every day still trying to get better,” McIlroy said. “I think the consistency that I’ve shown throughout my career, I’ve never lost the hunger to go out and play better. But I’ve also never lost the joy of the game, which I think is really, really important. It’s never felt like a job to me, and the day it does feel like a job is the day I need to give up.”
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates after an eagle putt on the 18th green during Round Three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club on January 20, 2024 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Young, who held a three-shot lead heading into the day, had his most up-and-down day of the tournament yet. After an 8-under round on Friday, he shot 1 under on Saturday in a round that includes four birdies, a bogey and a double.
“The front nine, especially, is kind of one of those days when a few things don’t quite go your way,” Young said. “I didn’t putt quite as well as I have the last few days, and with a little bit more wind, it wasn’t that easy. I think all in all, it was a good battle. And not obviously trying to be winning by ten after today, but two is better than none.”