x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Four in contention at Dubai Desert Classic

A quartet of quality sits atop the leaderboard on 11-under after a thrilling penultimate day at the Emirates Golf Club.

Overnight leader Thongchai Jaidee maintains his bid to win the Dubai Desert Classic with another solid round.
Overnight leader Thongchai Jaidee maintains his bid to win the Dubai Desert Classic with another solid round.

DUBAI // A quartet of quality sits atop the leaderboard on 11-under tonight after a thrilling penultimate day of the Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club. Overnight leader Thongchai Jaidee is joined by the European No 1 Lee Westwood and the Spanish duo of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Alvaro Quiros at the summit after three days of play. World No 32 Quiros, who was paired with reigning champion Rory McIlroy, shot a fantastic five-under par-67 total to take him to 11-under for the week. The popular 26-year-old shot four birdies on the back nine ? including two successively on the 17th and 18th ? to make a late surge to the fore during a flawless round.

Westwood, who missed the cut in the opening tournament of the 2010 European Tour season in Abu Dhabi, started the day one off the lead, but soon slipped up with a bogey on the tricky par-4 sixth. The Englishman, however, recovered well and needed just two strokes to fill the cup on the eighth to take him level for the day. Three birdies in the space of five holes from 11 through 15 ensured he finished the day on 11-under with only Jaidee and Jimenez still in-play. Both the Thai and the Spaniard needed birdies on the 18th to take sole ownership of the lead, but Jimenez narrowly missed a 15-foot putt and Jaidee failed to capitalise on his opportunity to lead for the second consecutive day.

McIlroy ended the day on nine-under, despite bogeying the first and after, on Friday, taking seven strokes to see out the par-5 18th, the Northern Irishman can take confidence as he putted home for a birdie to go into the final day two off the lead. gmeenaghan@thenational.ae