Rory McIlroy sank a short birdie putt on the 18th on Saturday to stay tied with Luke Donald atop the leaderboard, as the world’s two top-ranked golfers pulled three shots clear of the field after the third round of the Dubai World Championship.
McIlroy struggled early when he bogeyed the first hole and missed several makeable birdie putts.
However, he improved on the back nine, sinking a 30-foot eagle putt on 14 to go along with three birdies for a six-under 66. Donald also had a 66 and is tied with McIlory with a 17-under total of 199.
Donald had his third consecutive bogey-free round and has now gone 100 holes at the Dubai tournament without a bogey.
South Africans Louis Oosthuizen (68) and Charl Schwartzel (67) are three shots back, while their compatriot Branden Grace and Joostis Luiten of France are a further two shots behind.
Though McIlroy and Donald did not play together, it seemed the pair were having a duel of sorts all day.
Donald struck first, sinking two birdie putts on the first three holes, while McIlroy hit his opening drive into a bunker and settled for a bogey.
McIlroy pulled a shot back with a birdie on the third and then sank a 25-foot birdie putt on the sixth hole before Donald sank birdies on seven and nine to extend his lead.
McIlroy made consecutive birdies on 11 and 12. With Donald extending his lead by two with a 20-foot birdie putt on 14, McIlroy needed something special to keep pace.
On the par-five, 14th, McIlroy hit what he called a “great drive” followed by a four-iron that landed in the middle of the green. He curled the 30-foot putt to draw even with Donald.
Both players birdied the 18th to set up a season-ending dual between No. 1 and No. 2.