Race to Dubai: Luke Donald Is Closer to History as Rory McIlroy Concedes Defeat

Carlos TorresContributor IDecember 10, 2011

Donald is one step closer to history.
Donald is one step closer to history.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The leader going into Sunday's final round at the Dubai World Championships presented by DP World  is still Spain's Alvaro Quiros (14-under), who leads Paul Lawrie by two shots.

But the main story is the battle for the Money Title between the world's top two players, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy.

Saturday is known in golf as Moving Day, mostly because it is the day where the competitors try to position themselves up the leaderboard for a final push on Sunday.

And Donald did just that on Saturday. He shot a bogey-free six-under for a 10-under total for the tournament, and moved ahead of McIlroy, edging closer to the Money Title and a place in history.

Donald made the turn in 32 while McIlroy had his share of struggles with a 39, which included a double-bogey on the seventh hole. On that hole, McIlroy ran into trouble after he hit his second into a bush and had to take a penalty drop.

On the back nine, Donald had back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th, that rounded up his faultless round moving up to solo fourth place.

McIlroy did make a run on the back-nine starting with back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th holes. He made a 12-foot birdie-putt on the 12th hole, which is playing as the hardest hole on the course. He moved back to six-under at that time.

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He could have birdied the 13th hole, but his birdie-putt slipped by and he had to settle for par. He finished the round with a birdie on the 18th for a 32 on the back-nine and one-under for the day.

At the end of the round McIlroy, appeared to concede the Money Title to Donald when he said, "This thing's over, he's in a great position and I expect him to round this thing up tomorrow. He deserves to be world No. 1 and win both money lists."

Donald's response to that was "I would be foolish to expect that it's over. Tomorrow it will be just like any other day in terms of my focus and trying to catch the leader and win the tournament.'

It's definitely not over, but is an uphill battle for McIlroy, that to have any shot a winning the Money Title, will have to overcome a seven-shot deficit and expect Donald to collapse on Sunday.

Quiros is still the leader after shooting a two-under today for his 14-under total. He had the highlight of the day on the seventh hole when with a three-iron, his second shot almost dropped-in before passing the hole and backspinning to within five feet. 

He made the eagle putt, but he was inches from making only the second albatross of the season.

Quiros will be on the last group tomorrow with Paul Lawrie, who had one of the best closings today. He played the last six holes at five-under, including an eagle on a sensational putt on the 18th to finish his round at six-under, 12-under for the tournament.

Another player who made a move today was 2010 Open Champ Louis Oosthuizen. He eagled the seventh hole and made four birdies on the back nine for a six-under. After an even-par opening round, he has played the last two rounds at 11-under and is up to solo third place.

Tied for fifth at nine-under are opening-round leader Peter Hanson, Francesco Molinari and Shane Lowry.

The biggest mover was 2010 PGA Champ Martin Kaymer, who had the lowest round of the day at eight-under. He moved up 20 spots into a T8 with McIrloy, Charl Schwartzel, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and Robert Rock.

Lee Westwood shot a three-under round and moved up into a T16.

Tomorrow all eyes will be on Luke Donald as he tries to become the first player ever to top the money lists on the PGA and European Tours.

But they will also be on McIlroy, who is said to possibly be battling Dengue fever, and he has to make a magical move and overcome a seven-shot deficit to have a shot at winning.

The action starts at 7:24 a.m. local time (11:24 p.m. EST tonight). Here are some of the tee times (all times local) for the notable pairings:

Tee Time Pairing
10:55 am Lee Westwood - Ian Poulter
11:05 am Robert Rock - Pablo Larrazábal
11:15 am Rory McIlroy - Paul Casey
11:25 am Charl Schwartzel - Sergio Garcia
11:35 am Martin Kaymer - Peter Hanson
11:45 am Shane Lowry - Francesco Molinari
11:55 am Louis Oosthuizen - Luke Donald
12:05 pm Alvaro Quiros - Paul Lawrie

- Carlos Torres


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