McIlroy and Dunne In Contention Heading Into Final Day In Abu Dhabi

European Tour: Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship power rankings

The four-time major champion is just one stroke off joint-leaders Ross Fisher and Thomas Pieters after a sublime seven-under 65 in Saturday's third round.

Playing his first event since calling an early end to his injury-plagued and winless season in October a year ago, McIlroy has yet to drop a single shot at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he has four second-place finishes, two thirds and a fifth in his last eight starts.

The Northern Irishman had nudged his way up the leaderboard with a 66 on Friday after an opening 69 and he continued to make gradual process on the front nine in the third round with three birdies.

"It was another great round and another really good confidence builder", said McIlroy. "Not just for this week but for the rest of the season".

"Looking ahead to the final day, McIlroy said: "It would mean a lot to win here in Abu Dhabi".

"I think I'm definitely a bit sharper as a result of coming out here at the end of December", admitted the three-time European Tour victor.

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Dunne plays his third shot from a bunker on the 18th hole.

McIlroy is three days into his first event since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last October. "For me, it's been a really solid week so far", said Fleetwood. I've never won on my first start back out. It's felt like awhile since I've won and just to give myself these chances.

"I've just got to go out there and let it freeflow and be quite aggressive, keep my foot down and hole a few because momentum-wise it makes the world of difference".

After the eagle putt, McIlroy yelled, "Finally - one dropped" and punched the air in delight.

Pieters signed for a five-under 67 but Englishman Fisher went two better thanks to eight birdies and just one bogey - at the fifth - with his final gain at the 18th giving him a share of the lead.

A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.

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"I know I heard on the putting green this morning, D.J. shot 8 under yesterday and apparently it was the easiest 8 under the guys have ever seen", said Fitzpatrick.

However, his round then plateaued with three successive pars from the 13th before he slipped up with a bogey at the par-four 16th, although he cancelled that out with a birdie at the 18th.

Pressed about that posture change, he added: "It wasn't much, just moving the ball position a bit, but it certainly made a difference". They will partner each other again in the final group for Sunday's final round.

But he somehow dropped nearly an equal number of shots during the course of play, with four bogeys recorded to sign off at two-under 70 for an overall par-5, seven shots behind leader Thomas Pieters. The defending champion and last year's Race to Dubai victor, Tommy Fleetwood - grouped with Johnson and McIlroy on his 27th birthday - was another shot back, along with Alexander Levy and Ross Fisher.

Fitzpatrick produced the lowest round of the day, carding 10 birdies and one bogey in his superb 63.

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