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World's Two Best atop Dubai Leaderboard
The 2012 golf season is concluding with a bang as No. 1-ranked Rory McIlroy and No. 2 Luke Donald are tied for the lead heading into the final round of the $8 million DP World Tour Championship. The European Tour's year-ender is being held on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.
The two - who entered Saturday sharing the lead with Scotland's Marc Warren - both shot 66s in the third round to reach 17-under 199, three strokes ahead of two major winners, Charl Schwartzel (67) and Louis Oosthuizen (68).
The 34-year-old Donald carded six birdies on the day, while the 23-year-old McIlroy - after opening with a bogey - posted five birdies and an eagle on the par-5 14th hole.
Through 54 holes Donald has yet to drop a shot. "I wasn't aware I had gone that long without a bogey, but thanks for putting a curse on it," he said. "I guess it's testament to my style of play. I don't make too many mistakes. I keep it in front of me and, when I do make mistakes, I've got the short game to bail me out."
McIlroy is aware the whole golf world will be watching on Sunday a rare match-up of the top-two players on the planet. "I think everybody is looking forward to a world number one and two duel tomorrow. I know I'm excited about it and I'm sure a lot of people are. So it will be a great way to finish the 2012 European Tour season.
"No matter what happens tomorrow, I guess I'll still be world No. 1 going into next year," added McIlroy, who has already secured the money-list titles on both the PGA and European tours, a feat first accomplished last year by Donald.
"But it would be nice to put an exclamation mark on it," said the 2012 four-time winner. "You just have to concentrate on yourself and not think about what Luke's doing. There's no point trying to make it into a match-play scenario, because there's still a few guys behind us that could get off to a fast start and get right back in the tournament."
Donald knows the situation as well. "It's going to be great for the crowds and everyone watching around the world. It will be a great end to the European Tour season and I hope we can go out there and get some birdies.
"In terms of my own confidence, it would be a great way to finish off the year," added Donald, who won last week at the Japan Golf Tour's Dunlop Phoenix Open. "Any time you're playing against the best player in the world, if you go head-to-head and come out on top, you're going to come away feeling good about things."
Sharing fifth a 204 are Joost Luiten (67) and Branden Grace (70). Warren shot even-par 72 to drop into seventh at 205 with six others.
For all the scores, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2012/tournamentid=2012092/leaderboard/index.html?showLeaderboard=Y.