Woods has McIlroy in his sights

2011-02-12 10:22

 World number three Tiger Woods was looking to close in on leader Rory McIlroy in the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic today with gusting winds complicating the job on hand for both men.

The 35-year-old American, who last won a tournament 15 months ago in Australia, reached the halfway stage in a tie for fifth place, four strokes behind the 21-year-old Ulsterman, who was on 11 under par.

Woods had his best round of the year to date yesterday with a bogey-free, six under 66, and firmly stated he had played himself “right back in the tournament”.

Aware of the forecast for testing conditions at the weekend on the desert course, Woods said: “If it gets breezy around here with the greens as firm as they are getting, it’s going to be a bit of a test.”

McIlroy, whose last and, so far, only European Tour victory came here two years ago, said he was reaping dividends with his new game plan, which has seen him being more patient and less gung-ho on the course.

With Woods and the top two players in the world, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, all still in contention, the Irishman has a tough task before him, but he insists that will not worry him.

“I’ve never experienced being in contention with Tiger up around the top of the leader board so I don’t really know what will happen,” said McIlroy.

“I don’t mind who plays well over the weekend or who shoots what score. As long as I go out and shoot the numbers that I want to, that’s the most important thing.”

Wedged in between McIlroy and Woods at the top of the leader board are back-to-form Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Thomas Aiken of South Africa, who are both on 10 under, with Steve Webster of England a further shot back.

Among the early starters today, Raphael Jacquelin of France stood out with an eagle at the third and birdie at the fourth, followed by a hole-in-one at the seventh to get to seven under for the tournament around the turn.

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