DUBAI (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy was in a class of his own on Saturday, seizing a four-shot lead with a six-under-par 66 after the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic.
The world number one reeled off five birdies in the opening eight holes before picking up his sixth shot of a faultless round at the 17th to finish with a 20-under tally of 196.
Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen (66), chasing his second European Tour win, was in second place on 200, two ahead of Britain’s Lee Westwood (69).
“The front nine was very good as I didn’t put a foot wrong and when I missed a short putt on 10 it seemed like that momentum I had just sort of went away and I had to scramble a little bit for pars coming in,” McIlroy told reporters.
“It was nice then to make a birdie on 17 ... and to go out there today with no bogeys for a second day in a row.”
McIlroy heads to Dublin on Monday for a High Court date to settle a long-running dispute with his former management company but that seemed the furthest thing from his mind.
“I felt like today, for the first time this week, I struggled a little bit but felt like I kept it together nicely and didn’t drop any shots on the way in,” said the 2009 Dubai Desert Classic winner.
”We know in this game you can take nothing for granted. I’ve been in this position many times before so I know the pitfalls that are waiting out there.
”It’s just a matter of sticking to the same game plan, being aggressive, making committed swings and giving myself as many chances for birdies as I can,“ said the four-times major champion.”
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, chasing his third straight Desert Classic victory, was back on 203 after a 70.
Also on 13-under were English pair Andy Sullivan and Danny Willett and Bernd Wiesberger of Austria.
Editing by Tony Jimenez