Wednesday 13 December 2017

McIlroy fumes at slow start

BERNIE McGUIRE in Dubai

A frustrated Rory McIlroy was forced to take a back seat on day three of his defence of his Omega Dubai Desert Classic title.

Four players -- England's Lee Westwood (68), Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee (68) and the Spanish pair of Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) and Alvaro Quiros (67) -- share the lead on 11-under-par on the Emirates course. McIlroy carded a 69 that started with a bogey and ended with a birdie to leave him in fifth place at nine-under

"It was just a day of frustration. I need to get off to a better start than I did today, so that I am a couple under through five, so I'll be in with a shout," McIlroy said.

Westwood was one over par after six holes of his third round but fought back and had a chance to snatch the outright lead at the last, but missed a long eagle putt.

Graeme McDowell is just three strokes adrift of McIlroy in ninth place after adding a 70 to finish on six under par. Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin and Darren Clarke posted 72s to be tied in 19th spot on three under par.

But it was also a frustrating day for Clarke, who inadvertently bent his putter when raising it to the air with outstretched arms after missing an eight-footer for birdie at the 12th. Clarke was forced to bag the putter and had to use a wedge in putting out over his closing six holes. "I had a flexibility issue today and just didn't realise how soft the shaft was," he said.

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