Englishman Danny Willett surged to the top of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic leaderboard on Saturday, as he put together a stunning round of 65 to hold a one-shot lead over Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
Willett’s near-flawless display took his total to 16 under for the tournament and in the ideal position to chalk up his fourth European Tour win.
Moving Day truly lived up to its name at the Emirates Golf Club, as the birdies were dropping thick and fast in favourable conditions. Here’s a look at the top 10 of the leaderboard with one round remaining:
|Pos||Golfer||To Par||Saturday's Round|
For the full tournament leadboard, click here.
Wonderful Willett Hits Top Gear
Willett started the week in Dubai with a rather shaky round of 70, but since then he’s been absolutely relentless.
His tee-to-green work has been as good as any, while the putter has also been red-hot. A seven-under round of 65 on Friday put Willett up with the leaders ahead of Saturday’s play, and he picked up from where he left off immediately.
Birdies on one, two, seven and eight saw the Englishman out in 31 and to the top of the leaderboard at 13 under par.
Another birdie followed at the par-five 10th, before a lapse in concentration saw Willett chalk up a bogey on the 12th and move back to 13 under.
The Sheffield-born star has occasionally let his temperament get the better of him upon a disappointing hole, but this time around, he bounced back brilliantly on the 13th by carding an impressive eagle.
Two big hits left Willett a long and winding putt for his three, which he duly dispatched, as European Tour revealed:
Eagle alert! Two-shot lead for Danny Willett suddenly. https://t.co/f23Tn38yFe— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) February 6, 2016
There was still time for Willett to post a birdie on the short 17th to hit the heights of 16 under and lead by one.
Closest to Willett at the top of the leaderboard is Cabrera-Bello, who also produced the goods on Saturday.
Starting the day at 10 under, the Spaniard wasted no time in getting his round going with a superb eagle on the par-five third.
He forced a three wood into a green-side bunker from thick rough after an errant drive, before canning the bunker shot—per European Tour:
What a start! Rafa to -12 🦅https://t.co/uCIAsJPkH7— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) February 6, 2016
Cabrera-Bello has often been criticised for his short game, but he proved throughout Saturday that he has an impeccable touch around the green.
A pair of bogeys tarnished his scorecard somewhat, but it was still a brilliant 67 from the 31-year-old, who has a habit of bringing his best golf to Dubai.
Englishman Andy Sullivan makes up the top three, as he put together and impressive round of 66 to move up to 14 under par.
Sullivan hasn’t posted a single bogey since an ugly triple on his very first hole back on Thursday, and if he continues such form, he’ll be right in the hunt for the trophy on Sunday.
The round of the day, however, went to Denmark’s Joachim Hansen, who carded a superb eight-under 64 to move 44 places up the ladder and into a tie for 12th on nine under.
Pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy sits one shot back after a six-under back nine made amends for a shaky start, but it looks like being too little too late for the Northern Irishman.
Instead, it’s all about Willett and Cabrera-Bello, who will go out last on Sunday looking to exchange birdie blows.
Both players are in exemplary form and look worthy of the crown, but the talented chasing pack means it’s still very much all to play for.