Haotong Li hails special win over Rory McIlroy at Dubai Desert Classic

by Steven Clarke January 30, 2018, 1:02
Haotong Li hails special win over Rory McIlroy at Dubai Desert Classic

But I think with the greens being quite firm, I just need hit the ball in the fairway, something I didn't do in Abu Dhabi in the final round last week.

The four-time major victor sits on 19 under par after Round 3 Saturday, just one shot behind China's Li Haotong.

"The Asian Tour is where I started and to be able to get a win here really means a lot", Peterson said. "Having two close calls the first couple of weeks of the year, it's a little hard. I think my game is in a good position now".

"It's definitely hard to take right now, that's how I'm feeling, but if someone had of told me at the start of the year you'd finish third and second your first two events, I'd say, yeah, I'd take that".

Four-time major victor Rory McIlroy, twice a victor in Dubai, finished in a five-strong group at seven-under alongside Dane Lasse Jensen, England's Chris Paisley, Alexander Bjork of Sweden and Belgium's Thomas Pieters.

McIlroy remains winless since August 2016 when he won the Tour Championship.

After such a messy 2017, it's clear a regular diet of competitive golf is required, for it's hard to imagine Rory making such basic errors when tournament-hardened. He battled it throughout the campaign, and subsequently concluded a calendar year without a win for the first time in nearly a decade. He was to three-putt in passing up a glorious birdie opportunity.

Saturday saw the completion of the delayed second round and round three, McIlroy moving into the 36 hole lead when completing his morning work and at that point was one ahead of Jamie Donaldson and two ahead of Li. Key to the latter scenario was a birdie putt holed from off the 15th green.

'I'm in the driver's seat with eight holes to go and then I make a bogey out of nowhere at the 11th with one of my poorest swings of the week. I kept leaving myself in places where I couldn't really give it a run at the hole because they were downhill, downgrain, downwind. But I tried until the very end, made two good birdies and made him win it in the end.

"I had to make that transition from Asia to Europe and I was trying to play in as many events as I could".

The World No 11 came into the tournament off the back of an impressive performance and a third-place finish in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship last week. The biggest move on day four arrived from Scotland's Richie Ramsay, who claimed a share of sixth courtesy of a 64.

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