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McIlroy, Donald in final-day showdown

Ulsterman will have to better faultless rival to sign off season in style

  • Luke Donald of England walks the course during the 3rd round of the DP World TourChampionship in the Gulf emImage Credit: AFP
  • Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits a shot at the 18th green during the second round of theDP World Tour CImage Credit: Reuters
  • German golfer Martin Kaymer plays a shot during third roundat Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai yesterday.Image Credit: EPA
  • Marc Warren of England plays a ball on the 2nd hole duringthe round three yesterday.Image Credit: AP
  • Luis Oosthuizen from South Africa moves to check his ball onthe 18th hole during round three yesterday.Image Credit: AP
Gulf News

Dubai: Rory McIlroy intends to “put an exclamation mark” on his Race to Dubai-winning season with victory at the year-ending DP World Tour Championship on Sunday — but to do that he’ll have to overcome a faultless Luke Donald, who hasn’t recorded a single bogey in his last 100 holes at this course.

The world’s top two players share the lead at Jumeirah Golf Estates’ Earth Course after round three on 17 under par 199. They are three shots clear of South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, who are tied for second, and will head out together on Sunday for the climactic round of the 2012 European Tour season.

McIlroy bogeyed the first and eagled the 14th on his way to an admirable 66 on Saturday to follow on from 66 and 67 in his first two rounds. Meanwhile, Donald carded 66, adding to his earlier 65 and 68.

The Englishman now hasn’t bogeyed at this event since the eighth hole of round two last year, making for an unblemished century over the par 72, 7,675 yard venue.

But McIlroy remains unfazed by the World No 2’s consistency. “If you look at it logically, it means he’s due a bogey,” said the Ulsterman.

“So hopefully that’s the case.

“I think everybody is looking forward to a world number one and two duel tomorrow. I know I’m excited about it and I’m sure a lot of people are. So it will be a great way to finish the 2012 European Tour season.”

McIlroy added: “No matter what happens tomorrow, I guess I’ll still be World No 1 going into next year. But it would be nice to put an exclamation mark on it.

“You just have to concentrate on yourself and not think about what Luke’s doing. There’s no point trying to make it into a matchplay scenario, because there’s still a few guys behind us that could get off to a fast start and get right back in the tournament.”

When reporters told Donald of his extended clean run here, the Englishman said: “I wasn’t aware I had gone that long without a bogey, but thanks for putting a curse on it.

“I guess it’s testament to my style of play. I don’t make too many mistakes. I keep it in front of me and, when I do make mistakes, I’ve got the short game to bail me out.”

He added of his McIlroy match-up: “It’s going to be great for the crowds and everyone watching around the world. It will be a great end to the European Tour season and I hope we can go out there and get some birdies.

“In terms of my own confidence, it would be a great way to finish off the year. Any time you’re playing against the best player in the world, if you go head-to-head and come out on top, you’re going to come away feeling good about things.”