Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland) faced the final round with a 3-stroke lead at the DP World Tour Hero Dubai Desert Classic (total prize money of 9 million dollars).
On the 29th (Korean time) on the third day of the tournament held at the Emirates Golf Club (par 72) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), McIlroy drove 7 under par with 8 birdies and 1 bogey, and was tied for second place with a median total of 15 under par and 201 strokes. He was ahead of Callum Sinkwin and Dan Bradbury (above England) by three strokes.
If McIlroy wins this event, he will mark his first win in the New Year since his professional debut in 2007. For McIlroy, who has set various records such as 4 major wins, 3 FedEx Cup victories, and 4 Raid to Dubai victories, it is one of the most valuable bucket lists for me personally.
“I’ve won a couple of times at this golf course, but he’s never won his first tournament to start the year,” McIlroy said. “I had a few opportunities in Abu Dhabi, but I didn’t,” he said. “So tomorrow will be a very good opportunity to do something that has never been done before.” As McIlroy put it, he finished in the top 5 12 times in the first round of the New Year over the 16 years of his professional career, and finished in the top 5 9 times in Abu Dhabi. But he hasn’t won yet.
McIlroy, who caught four consecutive birdies on holes 1 to 4, caught three birdies in a row on holes 13 to 15. McIlroy, who caught the 8th birdie on the 17th hole (par 4), however, tried to drop the ball into the water while aiming for a 2-on on the 18th hole (par 5). A slightly unsettling sign is the bogey on the 18th hole. McIlroy also has a painful memory of dropping his shot into the water on the 18th hole after running a tie for the lead until the 71st hole in this tournament last year.
‘Bad boy’ Patrick Reed (USA) cut 3 strokes on the day and recorded a median total of 11 under par 205 strokes, tying for 4th place with Victor Perez (France) and Ian Poulter (England), winners of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship last week.
However, like a troublemaker, this time he was embroiled in a cheating controversy. The hole in question was the 17th hole (par 4). Reed’s tee shot bent and headed for a palm tree on the right side of the fairway. The ball rested on the branch of a palm tree and did not fall to the floor.
Reed declared unplayable (one penalty stroke), saying that he confirmed that his ball was resting on a tree branch through a telescope, and played the third shot near the palm tree and holed out with a look. However, after the game, suspicion arose that Reid pretended to check his ball when he could not.
Golf Digest, an American golf media outlet, reported that there were three or four more balls in the gap between the palm trees that Reed checked through his telescope. Reed said of this, “Obviously he checked my ball. If he hadn’t confirmed it was 100 percent mine, he would have gone back to the tee box.”
Wang Jeong-hoon, the only Korean player to participate, cut 2 strokes with 5 birdies and 3 bogeys to record an intermediate total of 7 under par and 209 strokes.