McIlroy eyeing front nine improvements

Rory McIlroy is hoping to make a better start in the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday.

Rory McIlroy in action at the Dubai Desert Classic   -  Getty Images

Rory McIlroy will spend Saturday night studying the front nine holes of the Emirates Golf Club to give him the best chance of winning a third Dubai Desert Classic.

The Northern Irishman goes into the final round one shot behind overnight leader Li Haotong after a 68 on Saturday, McIlroy holding second place on -19 after 54 holes.

Throughout the week in Dubai, McIlroy has racked up 13 birdies and an eagle on the back nine, but he has enjoyed less success at the start of every round.

McIlroy has only picked up seven shots over the three days and has bogeyed the fourth and the eighth – the latter twice.

That is something he hopes to improve on Sunday as he looks to pip Li to a third crown – adding to the ones he won in 2009 and 2015.

"The back nine's been good to me this week," said the four-time major winner. "I just need to figure out how to play the front a bit better. Hopefully [I'll] get off to a good start tomorrow.

"It would be great to put my name on that trophy for a third time. This is one of my favourite tournaments of the year, a place I've always done well at, some good memories.

"Maybe that experience of winning a couple of times around here, being in contention quite a lot, will help me tomorrow.

"I'm looking forward to it. I showed that even when I didn't have my best stuff today I was able to battle around and get in at a decent score. So hopefully I have a bit of a better game tomorrow."

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