Quiros slows up but holds the fort

Alvaro Quiros leads Paul Lawrie by two and Luke Donald is now just four off the pace at the Dubai World Championship.

Alvaro Quiros leads Paul Lawrie by two shots and Luke Donald has moved ahead of Rory McIlroy heading into Sunday at the Dubai World Championship.

Donald, the World No 1 and already the top money winner of the year in the USA, is set to complete the best year of his golfing life after a third round 66 at Jumeirah’s Earth Course on Saturday put him firmly on track to the historic first-ever double that victory in the Race to Dubai would give him.

No one has ever won the top money prize on both the US PGA and European Tours in the same year and that’s exactly what winning the Race to Dubai would do for him.

McIlroy, the 22-year-old World No 2 and only man who could stop Donald when they teed off together on Thursday, has already conceded victory in the money race to Donald, saying, “It’s over – definitely – And Luke deserves it.”

This after a 71 dropped him from third to eighth in an event he has to win just to have a chance.

Needing a top nine finish to clinch The Race to Dubai, Donald, in the meantime, burst from joint 12th place at halfway to fourth spot on ten under par on Saturday and came out of it feeling pretty confident.

“Yes, I’m very satisfied with the way things went today. Unlike the first two days when I made two many mistakes, I picked up six birdies today and gave nothing away. I’m now back into the mix with a chance of winning”

The man he will have to beat for the Dubai World Championship remained Friday night’s overnight leader Alvaro Quiros who bogeyed the last to drop back into a two shot lead over Scot Paul Lawrie, a somewhat disappointing 70 taking his 54-hole total to 14-under and leaving him with a worried frown instead of his usual smile when he came off an 18th green that Lawrie by contrast, had managed to eagle for a two shot swing.

“I’m still leading the tournament, even though the day wasn’t the best one,” said Quiros, who won this year’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic and for the fifth year in a row is Europe’s longest hitter.

“I’m still hitting good shots and good putts, so this is the only thing that matters,” he insisted

South African Louis Oosthuizen, like Lawrie a former Open Champion, is third, a stroke further back and two off the pace after also handing in a 66.

Donald described his six-birdie, no bogey effort as “the perfect round for me – exactly what I wanted.”

He had started his first two rounds with a bogey, but this time it was with a 14 foot birdie putt and he added three more on the second, fifth and eighth to turn in 32.

With no sight of McIlroy on the leaderboard by then, Donald picked up further shots at the 15th and 16th.

But for all that, he would not be taking anything for granted or letting his guard down

“You can’t in this game. I would be foolish to think it’s over,” he said.

“Tomorrow it will be just like any other day in terms of my focus.

“It will be on trying to catch whoever is the leader and trying to win the tournament. I’m not going to count on anything.

“But if it all works out, tomorrow night will be fun – it would be a pretty amazing feat. It’s history. No one else has ever done it, so it must be something special to win and this might be my only chance.”

McIlroy’s girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, the tennis world number one, turned up to watch him on the back nine and seemed to set him alight, the 22 year old coming home in a four under 32 with birdies at the 11th, 12th, 16th and 18th.

But the damage had been done earlier when he drove into sand on the third, then ran up a double bogey seven at the long seventh after hooking his ball into an unplayable lie in a bush with a five wood and then leaving his chip short of the green.

“I’m tired. I’m very tired,” he said.

“But I don’t want to say that’s the cause of playing the way I did on the front nine because I came back.

Quiros eagled the seventh from eight feet and had four birdies, but there were also four bogeys on his eventful card.

His closest overnight challenger, Swede Peter Hanson, managed only a 71 and Lawrie seized the chance to burst into the final group on the final day of the final event with Quiros when he played the last six holes in five under.

His closing eagle followed birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th.