November 22, 2014 / 2:22 PM / 3 years ago

Double-bogeys blunt McIlroy's charge in Dubai

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his shot from the second tee during the third round of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai November 22, 2014. REUTERS/Nikhil Monteiro

DUBAI (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy made double bogeys on successive holes in the third round of the $8 million DP World Tour Championship on Saturday, slipping four strokes behind joint-leaders Henrik Stenson and Rafael Cabrera-Bello.

World number one McIlroy began two shots adrift of Sweden’s Stenson, but the Northern Irishman sunk birdies on holes 5-7 and another at 10 to pull level. Then came 20 minutes of golf that will haunt McIlroy.

On the par-four 12, the 25-year-old found the bunker, recovered to within 30 feet of the pin, but rolled a putt six feet long and then missed again going back the other way.

At the par-three 13, McIlroy’s tee-shot found the gallery and twice he underplayed chips before double-putting. He sunk birdies on 14 and 18 -- the latter after fluffing an eagle chance -- for 70 and a 10-under 206.

“I’ll try to get off to a fast start, put some pressure on,“ McIlroy told reporters. ”I can’t afford to stay patient tomorrow. I need to get some birdies from the off.”

Defending champion Stenson, 38, sunk four birdies to card 68 and a 14-under 202. He has not dropped a shot for 32 holes.

“I was back to hitting it really good and had quite a few chances, but wasn’t as hot on the greens as yesterday,” Stenson told reporters.

“There are still a bunch of guys that could get a hot streak and catch us. I could play the golf of my life and still be beaten or I could play solid and still win.”

Spain’s Cabrera-Bello (65) is level with Stenson on 202, Justin Rose (68) is on 205 and four players are a stroke further back -- McIlroy, Victor Dubuisson (67), Tyrrell Hatton (68), Thorbjorn Olesen (69).

SLOW START

McIlroy, already crowned European money list winner for a second season in three, began tentatively, his tee-shot on the bunker-laden first hole finding the rough as he eventually made par.

The official shade temperature was around 31 degrees Celsius, but on-course it was much hotter and McIlroy was already pulling at his sweat-soaked red shirt on the second tee.

McIlroy drifted a 40-foot birdie chance inches wide on four, but Stenson remained in the four-time major winner’s sights.

Reporting by Matt Smith; editing by Toby Davis

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