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Dubai Desert Classic: Rory McIlroy leads by three, Patrick Reed by four

McIlroy won the Dubai event in 2009 and 2015

-fifteen R McIlroy (NI); -12 D Bradbury (Eng), C Shinkwin (Eng); -11 Arnaus (Spa), R Bland (Eng), A Hidalgo (Spa), S Norris (SA), V Perez (Fr), I Poulter (Eng), P Reed (US)
Selected others: -10 C Hill (Sco), M Wallace (Eng); -9 M Thorbjornsen (USA)*; -8th R. MacIntyre (Sco); -7 D Law (Sco)
* means amateur

World number one Rory McIlroy carded a third round of 65 at seven under par to take a three-shot lead at the rain-delayed Dubai Desert Classic.

The Northern Irishman made eight birdies and a bogey to finish under 15 on the Majlis course at the Emirates Club.

Second are England’s Callum Shinkwin (67) and Dan Bradbury (68).

Joint leader Richard Bland carded a 71 to sit 11-under in a group that also included compatriot Ian Poulter (69) and American Patrick Reed (69).

The final round of the DP World Tour event will be played on Monday, a day later than scheduled, after heavy rain on day one meant that only 12 of the 132-man field completed Thursday’s first round.

McIlroy screwed the first four holes, as well as the 13th, 14th, 15th and 17th holes before dropping a shot with a six on the last.

“It felt like the good golf came in two batches and then the rest was fine,” McIlroy said.

“I kept it together. I still don’t feel like I’m in full control of my game. But today was a lot better than yesterday, so that was positive.

“This is my first start this year. I don’t think I’ve ever won my first start this year – I’ve had a lot of chances in Abu Dhabi over the years and never quite made it.

“So tomorrow is a good opportunity to try something I’ve never done before.”

Adria Arnaus and Angel Hidalgo of Spain, South Africa’s Shaun Norris and last week’s winner Victor Perez of France are the other players at 11 under.

New Zealand’s Ryan Fox shot a 66 to enter the competition at 10 under alongside Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, England’s Matt Wallace and Scotland’s Calum Hill.

Reed was deleted from the tour after claiming on social media that he identified a ball as his own that was stuck in the wrong tree on the 17th hole.

A tour umpire used binoculars to identify a ball with Reed’s specific marking in the tree.

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