McIlroy remains in contention in Dubai

Rory McIlroy will go into the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic one shot off the lead after shooting a third-round 68.

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The Northern Irishman trails China’s Li Haotong, who carded a 64 to reach 20-under-par.

The best-placed Australians were Andrew Dodt and Brett Rumford, two further back at 12-under and tied for 21st.

Scott Hend is 11-under after a 68 with Sam Brazel a further shot adrift.

McIlroy began another day of low scoring by completing his fog-delayed second round with three successive birdies.

That gave him a two-shot lead at the halfway point but he was unable to maintain that momentum at the start of his third round.

Two bogeys on the front nine took him to the turn in 36 but an eagle and three birdies coming home kept him firmly in contention.

“The back nine was good, the front nine not so much,” said McIlroy, a two-time winner of the tournament, on Sky Sports. “I made a couple of sloppy mistakes on the front.

“I feel like if I play my game I’ll be able to shoot something a bit lower tomorrow, and I think I’ll need to shoot something lower to be able to win.

“Li played really well out there and if he continues to play like that I’ll need to shoot something similar to what he shot today.”

Li, who began his third round three shots behind McIlroy, made a confident start with four birdies in his first eight holes. Three more followed in the space of four holes from the turn and he finished with another at the last.

“When I won (before), it was always (coming) from really (far) behind to win events,” Li said. “I’ve never been in this position but I’m happy to see my game in this shape.

“Hopefully I will make some birdies tomorrow and shoot some low scores.”