McIlroy catches fire

Golfing prodigy Rory McIlroy made a flawless start to his third round at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship this morning to move on to four under-par.

Golfing prodigy Rory McIlroy made a flawless start to his third round at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship this morning to move on to four under-par.

McIlroy, who made his first cut on the European Tour at last year's Dubai Desert Classic, began the day at level-par but carded four birdies in his opening 11 holes to march up the leaderboard.

He still sits nine shots adrift of clubhouse leader Martin Kaymer, who starts his third round this afternoon, but the 18-year-old is course to secure a strong finish in the fourth event of his first full season as a professional on the European Tour.

Open champion Padraig Harrington also made a welcome return to form in the opening stages of his third round and reeled off three birdies over his first eight holes, which included back-to-back birdies at the start, before a dropped shot at the ninth saw him slip back to two under overall at the turn.

Harrington revealed prior to the start of his first event of the new season he was still some way behind in his preparations following an illness over the Christmas period, and had carded consecutive level-par rounds at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club this week.

Compatriot Darren Clarke, who was upbeat heading into the event after securing successive top-four finishes, made a disastrous start to his round and shipped four shots in his opening four holes.

But Clarke, Harrington’s playing partner, reached the turn in 38 with a run of two quick birdies from the eighth to claw himself back to two over-par.

Colin Montgomerie, two under through seven, Paul McGinley, one-under after six, and Nick Dougherty, one under following the fifth hole, all moved on to two under-par overall after making steady starts.

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