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Fleetwood surges into lead at Dubai Invitational after third round

Tommy Fleetwood Tommy Fleetwood - The Candian Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Tommy Fleetwood surged into the lead of the Dubai Invitational after shooting an 8-under 63 in the third round Saturday to overtake Rory McIlroy by one stroke.

Fleetwood made eight birdies in a flawless round, including four on his first six holes, to move to a 15-under total of 198.

McIlroy had been out in front since opening with a 62 on Thursday and led by two strokes going into the third round. But he settled for a 67 that left him in sole possession of second place.

Thorbjorn Olesen was another two shots back in third after a 66.

Fleetwood has six wins on the European tour but was surprised when he was told that this is the first time since 2014 that he is going into the final round with the lead.

“That's a strange stat,” Fleetwood said, adding that his early birdies gave him momentum with the putter. “It's funny really when you get a day like that, and you're just looking at them and you feel like ... even the putts that miss come close.”

His approach shots weren't bad either. He came within a few inches of holing out for eagle from 147 yards on the par-4 sixth hole.

McIlroy found himself three shots behind Fleetwood at one point but had four birdies on the back nine to keep alive his chances of opening the season with a win. That included a 34-footer on the 11th after hitting his tee shot into a bunker.

“I think just first week back, being in the final group, I started feeling a little bit of the buzz and the pressure, trying to win a golf tournament,” McIlroy said. “You think you know where your game is until you play in it in a situation like that. ... I played well on that back nine and earned myself a tee time with (Fleetwood) tomorrow and it’ll be good fun. I’m looking forward to it.”


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