DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Rory McIlroy shot the best round of the day to move within one shot of leader Andy Sullivan after the third round of the World Tour Championship on Saturday, which also puts him closer to the Race to Dubai title.
McIlroy shot a 7-under 65 at Jumeirah Golf Estates to make up three shots on Sullivan (68) and go four strokes clear of Danny Willett, his closest challenger for the season-long Race to Dubai crown. Willett looked set to be even further back but made two birdies and an eagle on his last five holes for a 67.
Sullivan made two birdies on his last four to maintain the lead with a 16-under total of 200.
Despite making eight birdies in the swirling wind, McIlroy was left ruing some the chances he missed.
“I guess you can’t really walk off this golf course, especially in these conditions, and shoot 7-under and not feel good about yourself. But at the same time, I feel like it could have been a lot better,” McIlroy said. “The good thing is, there’s still one round of golf left. If it had been the final day, I’d be kicking myself with some of the chances I missed. I am playing lovely, so bodes well for tomorrow.”
American Patrick Reed shot a 68 that gave him sole possession of third place, two shots behind McIlroy, while South Korea’s Byeong-hun An (66) and Emiliano Grillo (71) of Argentina were tied for fourth at 204.
Sullivan was 2 under after seven holes, but a string of pars left him slightly frustrated before the two late birdies. He made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole, and then saved par from a similar distance on the 18th.
“Felt like the putter really saved me the last few holes,” he said. “The way I played, I was quite happy with the 68, really.”
Justin Rose, who was third in the Race to Dubai at the start of the week and needed to win the tournament to become the European No. 1 for the second time in his career, shot a 78 and slipped out of contention.