Rory McIlroy was denied at the final hole as Li Haotong sprung a surprise at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic with a record 23-under par victory.
Li, the world No60, had only one once on the European Tour before – in 2016 at the Volvo China Open – but maintained his cool at Emirates Golf Club with a final round of 69.
McIlroy was again impressive over four days in Dubai after making his comeback in Abu Dhabi last week, but could only match Li’s round – including a birdie on the final hole – to finish one stroke behind the Chinese.
More to follow.
Rory McIlroy will go into the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic one shot off the lead after shooting a third-round 68 on Saturday.
The Northern Irishman trails China’s Li Haotong, who carded a 64 to reach 20 under par.
Alexander Levy – who enjoyed a hole-in-one at the fourth – and Haydn Porteous finished the day at 17 under, with Andy Sullivan a shot further back and David Horsey on 15 under. Tyrrell Hatton was among a group of eight players on 14 under.
Ahead of Sunday’s action, here’s a look at the groups and starting times for the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic.
7.18am: Matthieu Pavon, Daan Huizing
7.27am: Lee Slattery, Richard Sterne
7.36am: Daniel Im, Phachara Khongwatmai
7.45am: Stephen Gallacher, Todd Clements (Am)
7.54am: Lucas Bjerregaard, Mikko Korhonen
8.03am: Thomas Pieters, Romain Wattel
8.12am: Mikko Ilonen, Kiradech Aphibarnrat
8:21am: Gavin Green, Shubhankar Sharma
8:30am: Adrian Otaegui, Richie Ramsay
8.39am: Nino Bertasio, Matt Wallace
8.53am: Scott Jamieson, Anthony Wall
9.02am: Robert Karlsson, Ross Fisher
9.11am: Andrew Johnston, Matthew Southgate
9.20am: Bernd Wiesberger, Andres Romero
9.29am: Chris Hanson, Jamie Donaldson
9.38am: Ashley Chesters, Trevor Immelman
9.47am: Jason Scrivener, Maximilian Kieffer
9.56am: Sam Brazel, Ashun Wu
10.05am: Gregory Havret, Alejandro Canizares
10.14am: Edoardo Molinari, Sergio Garcia
10.28am: Dean Burmester, Pat Perez
10.37am: Nicolas Colsaerts, Scott Hend
10.46am: An Byeong-hun, Henrik Stenson
10.55am: Brett Rumford, Andrew Dodt
11.04am: Martin Kaymer, Tommy Fleetwood
11.13am: Lasse Jensen, Alexander Bjork
11.22am: Thomas Aiken, Miguel Angel Jimenez
11.31am: Thomas Detry, Ian Poulter
11.40am: Branden Grace, Chris Paisley
11.54am: Wang Jeung-hun, Rafa Cabrera Bello
12.03pm: Thorbjorn Olesen, David Lipsky
12.13pm: Tyrrell Hatton, Dylan Frittelli
12.23pm: Andy Sullivan, David Horsey
12.33pm: Haydn Porteous, Alexander Levy
12.43pm: Li Haotong, Rory McIlroy
A bawling baby led to back-to-back bogeys, but Alexander Levy did not throw his toys out of the pram as a superb hole in one ensured the Frenchman made his third round look like child’s play yesterday.
His fantastic feat on the fourth – the second of the weekend after Matthew Southgate’s hole in one on the seventh on Friday – saw Levy post a sublime -7 under 65 that leaves him tied for third place at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, just three shots off the lead.
He added seven birdies to the hole in one, although he briefly dropped his concentration after a baby started crying as he was putting on 15 – eventually leading to a bogey.
The 27-year-old shot an ominous look in the direction of the family as he briefly lost focus, shanking his tee shot on 16, which again led to a bogey – doubling his tally for the weekend to four.
But he recovered to par 17 and birdie the last to cap a fine performance.
“It was tough to stay focused, I lost a bit today, especially 14 and 15,” Levy said of the distraction at 15.
“It was a long day but I’m pleased with what I did on 17 and 18, I put a lot in and made a good birdie on the last.”
Despite the incident, Levy revealed he was actually more frustrated by perhaps glancing too much at the leaderboard and how well he was playing.
“I was not looking, or not looking every time. I just started to think about what can happen and I don’t enjoy the moment,” he added.
“There was a big crowd there. It was tough because it was noisy and so I lost a little bit of concentration, so it was not easy, but I will learn from that and try my best tomorrow.
“The last few days I play some good golf. I enjoy and try to hit the perfect shots. I got a good stretch nine to 14.
“And from there, I start to think, I’m leading the tournament, so I put a little bit more pressure on my shoulders, and I miss three short putts in a row. But I bounce back on 18 with a great birdie.”
Levy birdied the third but better was to come as he aced the fourth from 171 yards with a nine iron to get to -13 under. Despite being elated, he later admitted it was lucky.
“I hit a perfect shot straight to the flag and I don’t know, I get lucky because it’s a lot of downhill, left-to-right, and I just watched. It was perfect pace, a perfect shot. But it’s little bit lucky,” he said.
Southgate’s feat on day two saw him win an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra watch, and Levy joked he was waiting for his own gift for holing in one.
“It feels nice, but I look around and no prize, so I was a little bit upset,” he said, laughing.