The same name was atop the leaderboard at the Dubai Invitational after the first two rounds — Rory McIlroy. But thanks to an 8-under 63 on Saturday, Tommy Fleetwood (15 under) holds a one-shot lead over the Northern Irishman at Dubai Creek Resort.
Fleetwood carded eight birdies during the third round, including a stretch of three straight on the back nine from Nos. 12-14.
“That little patch through the middle of the back nine, really, where you just start seeing putts going in, it’s funny, really, when you get a day like that and you’re just looking at them and you just feel like you can come close,” Fleetwood told the media after signing his card.
“So, yeah, nice day to be out on the course.”
Dubai Invitational: Leaderboard
Fleetwood, who tied for 47th last week at the PGA Tour’s The Sentry, last claimed victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in December 2022.
World No. 2 McIlroy (14 under) traded a birdie for a bogey on his front nine, making the turn with a even-par 35 on Saturday. However, he turned it on on the back nine, making four birdies coming home including three straight from Nos. 11-13.
“It was a bit of a slow start again,” McIlroy said. “You know, I — yeah, it was a little bit of a slow start, but then I got things going on the back nine.
“Shot 4-under on the back to try to keep up with Tommy. And, you know, played well that back nine and earned myself a tee time with him tomorrow, and it’ll be good fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
McIlroy and Fleetwood teamed up at the 2023 Ryder Cup on two occasions going 2-0 with wins against Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay in Friday morning foursomes, and Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in Saturday morning foursomes.
Thorbjorn Olesen is alone in third at 12 under, while Jordan Smith, Thriston Lawrence and Zander Lombard are tied for fourth at 11 under.
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) January 13, 2024