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Rory McIlroy leads in Dubai; Collin Morikawa closing in on RTD title

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Rory McIlroy was on the rocks late in his third round at the DP World Tour Championship.

Some cliff-edge improvisation, followed by a final-hole birdie, put him back in control.

Seeking a second straight victory to end his season, McIlroy delivered another wild finish at Jumeirah Golf Estates in shooting a 5-under 67 that left the four-time major champion with a one-stroke lead on Saturday.

Sam Horsfield bogeyed the 18th hole to shoot 69 and drop out of a share of the lead with McIlroy, who was 14 under overall in the season-closing event on the European Tour.

Collin Morikawa, still on course to become the first American to finish a season as the tour’s No. 1 player, was three shots back in a four-way share of fifth place after his round of 69.

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

Standing on the tee at the par-3 17th hole holding a one-stroke lead, McIlroy missed the green left and saw the ball bounce through the rough and dance along the edge of the cliffs. It eventually settled on a narrow ledge, to gasps among spectators.

McIlroy opted against taking a drop, which was the preferred choice of his caddie, Harry Diamond, and managed to clip a shot off the stone and through the green. He missed the return chip by inches, but a par was a good result given what could have happened.

“Harry was pleading with me not to hit it,” McIroy said. “He was like, ‘We can just go back and make 4 at the last.’”

McIlroy then pitched to 9 feet with his third shot – from just on the green – at the par-5 18th and holed the birdie putt which would regain the lead after Horsfield’s bogey a few minutes later.

Rory plays off rocks, avoids prior Tiger mishap

Last year, Rory McIlroy turned a risk into a triple bogey alongside Tiger Woods. This time McIlroy was rewarded a little better.

McIlroy, who won the CJ Cup in Las Vegas last month, closed his second round on Friday with a double-bogey 7 after hitting into water at the 18th.

He made a dreadful start to his third round, too, snap-hooking a 3-wood off the first tee and making a bogey.

McIlroy responded with birdies at Nos. 2 and 3 — two of the seven he had in total.

Morikawa, playing alongside McIlroy, birdied three of his first six holes to move into a tie for the lead with his playing partner and four others. The American made par on each of his final 12 holes to slip off the pace.

Highlights: DP World Tour Championship, Round 3

Highlights: DP World Tour Championship, Round 3

“It was all over the place,” Morikawa said. “Front nine played pretty good but overall just didn’t take advantage of the par 5s.

“All three days have kind of been a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and got one more day to kind of put everything together and hopefully put a low one out there.”

Morikawa is the highest-placed of the six players who can still win the Race to Dubai and is unlikely now to need a victory to clinch the title.

Billy Horschel is second behind Morikawa in the points race but is 37th in the 52-man field, eight shots adrift of his compatriot.