Rory McIlroy’s favourite hole gave his bid for a second Omega Dubai Desert Classic title a massive boost in the early stages of today’s third round.
McIlroy held a one-shot lead over American Brooks Koepka overnight, but was joined at the top of the leaderboard before teeing off by England’s Steve Webster, who compiled a rollercoaster 64.
Webster, who started the Qatar Masters last week with an albatross on his very first hole, carded nine birdies, an eagle and three bogeys to set the clubhouse target on 11 under par, and when McIlroy bogeyed the first hole for the second day running, Webster briefly held the outright lead.
However, McIlroy then drove to the edge of the green on the short par-four second and chipped to within two feet for an easy birdie, before doing even better at the next.
On Thursday the former world number one hit a five wood from 256 yards to 10ft on the par-five third to set up an eagle, on Friday he played a superb long bunker shot to set up a birdie and on Saturday it was a long iron to 15ft for another eagle.
That meant the 24-year-old was five under par for that hole alone and, more importantly, up to 13 under overall and two shots ahead of playing partner Koepka.
Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen was a shot further back after picking up five shots in 11 holes, with European number one Henrik Stenson among five players on nine under after birdies at the second and third.
World number one Tiger Woods had already completed his third round, a 70 leaving the 38-year-old well down the field on five under.