(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Rory McIlroy is still hopeful of clasping the Omega Dubai Desert Classic trophy on Sunday afternoon, despite falling behind new tournament leader Stephen Gallacher in the race for first place
The Northern Irishman, 24, carded a three-under par 69 with an eagle, three birdies and two bogeys on Saturday, which wasn't enough to keep pace with Gallacher's blistering 63 for nine-under par
McIlroy (-14) then needs to make up a two-stroke deficit to Gallacher (-16) in the fourth and final round at Emirates Golf Club and he remains optimistic of doing exactly that down the stretch
"I've been in similar positions before and come out on top," McIlroy said. "I just need to go out there and, if I can hit a few more fairways and hole a few more putts, we'll see where that puts me at the end of the day
"69 wasn't a bad score. I left a few out there and, hopefully, the putts will start dropping for me tomorrow (Sunday) and I'll shoot something a little lower. I'll need to go a bit lower to try to catch Steve (Gallacher)
"I didn't know he (Gallacher) was 10-under for the last 10 holes. That's phenomenal; that's some golf right ther. Stephen playing the way he did coming down the back nine is very, very impressive, but I can catch him up tomorrow
"I'm happy with my position going into the final day. I'll be in the final group, so I'll see what's happening. All in all, I'm in a good position going into tomorrow
"This is my second week in a row where I'm going into the last day with a chance to win. I'm in the last group; it's a great position to be in.
McIlroy will tee off alongside Gallacher after the USA's Brooks Koepka and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen, who are tied for third place 12-under
Koepka blamed bad ball-striking and poor putts on the fast greens for a two-under par third round as his putter went from hot early on to stone-cold after the turn for home
Contrastingly, Olesen's short game had few such setbacks with seven birdies in a bogey-free 18 holes
"I saw the lines on the greens and my pace was brilliant, so I holed a few really good putts," Olesen said
"Hopefully, I can keep on doing that tomorrow. I'm definitely up there in contention for tomorrow, so hopefully down the stretch, I'll have a chance. I'm playing great.