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Rory McIlroy increases lead at Dubai Desert Classic

Rory McIlroy went bogey-free for the second straight day as he carded a 6-under 66 in Saturday’s third round at Emirates Golf Club to increase his lead at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

McIlroy, the world’s top-ranked player, led Marc Warren by a shot entering the third round, but now is four shots clear of second-place Morten Orum Madsen.

“To be bogey-free again today was important to me, especially when you’re going out with the lead,” said McIlroy, who sits at 20-under 196 through 54 holes. “Not to make any mistakes makes it that much harder for anyone else. … I’m very happy. I feel like I could be a little bit more but I’m not going to complain.

“I’ve been in this position many times before and I know the pitfalls that are waiting out there. It’s just a matter of sticking to the same game plan, being aggressive, making committed swings and giving myself as many chances for birdies as I can.”

McIlroy has 21 birdies to just one bogey through three rounds. He made six birdies on Saturday, including five on his front nine as he made the turn in 5-under 30. He followed that front nine with pars on his first seven holes on the back, but added a birdie at the par-4 17th for the second straight round.

“The front nine was very good,” McIlroy said. “I didn’t put a foot wrong on the front nine and when I missed that little short putt on 10 (from inside 2 feet), it seemed like that momentum I had just went away. It was nice to make one birdie on 17, and then a great save on the last (after finding the water).”

Lee Westwood, who shot 69 on Saturday, is in third place at 14 under. Other notables in the top 10 include European Ryder Cuppers Stephen Gallacher (T-4) and Graeme McDowell (T-8), as well as teenage rookie Renato Paratore (T-8).

– Information from the European Tour was used in this report.

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