Tommy Fleetwood storms past Rory McIlroy to lead DP World Tour’s Dubai Invitational

Tommy Fleetwood storms past Rory McIlroy to lead DP World Tour’s Dubai Invitational

Tommy Fleetwood had the low round Saturday at the Dubai Invitational, as he climbed up the leaderboard and into the lead all by himself.

He carded an 8-under 63 Saturday—the best score by three shots. He is now 15-under overall, one stroke ahead of Rory McIlroy.

“I felt I played very well, got off to the perfect start, and got momentum early on, which I didn’t have yesterday,” Fleetwood said of his superb third round.

The Englishman began the day with four birdies over his first six holes. He rolled in a 20-footer for birdie at the first to get the round going and was firing on all cylinders as he paraded around Dubai Creek’s front nine.

McIlroy, meanwhile, carded one birdie and one bogey on the outward nine, shooting an even-par 35. At least he did not make another quadruple bogey on the par-3 8th.

“It was a bit of a slow start again,” McIlroy noted.

Rory McIlroy, DP World Tour, Dubai Invitational

Rory McIlroy during the third round of the 2024 Dubai Invitational.
Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

“Yeah, it was a little bit of a slow start, but then I got things going on the back nine. Shot 4-under on the back to try to keep up with Tommy. And, you know, I played well that back nine and earned myself a tee time with him tomorrow, and it’ll be good fun. I’m looking forward to it.”

McIlroy signed for a 4-under 67 Saturday thanks to his barrage of birdies on the back nine. The Northern Irishman made three straight on the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes, then poured another one in from 21 feet at the par-3 16th.

Fleetwood also had a hot stretch on the back nine, as he, too, made three birdies in a row. The Englishman birdied the 12th, 13th, and 14th holes. His par-breakers at the 12th and 14th were from distance, as he made a 35-footer at 12 and then a 27-footer at 14.

On top of that, he made a four on the par-5 10th, thus carding a 4-under 32 on the backside.

His putter caught fire, which helps explain why he had the best score of the day. He also gave himself plenty of opportunities. Fleetwood hit 16-of-18 greens in regulation.

“I hit a couple of really nice putts early on. Was rolling the ball well. Hit the greens well,” Fleetwood remarked.

“You know, today they went my way. Yeah, just a bit of confidence when you start holing some and get in that rhythm and that flow… so, yeah, a nice day to be out on the course.”

Fleetwood holds the 54-hole lead in a DP World Tour event for the first time in 10 years. But with McIlroy lurking one stroke behind him, closing the deal will prove difficult.

Nevertheless, Fleetwood has been in these high-pressure situations before. After all, he closed the door on the Americans at the 2023 Ryder Cup.

He and McIlroy comprise the final pairing and will tee off at 3:10 a.m. ET, which surely will not disappoint. Final round coverage of the Dubai Invitational begins on Golf Channel at 2:30 a.m. ET.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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