The flamboyant French holds a one-stroke lead over a bunched leaderboard as the DP World Tour Championship prepares for a Sunday showdown, reports Robbie Greenfield from Dubai
Mercurial Frenchman Victor Dubuisson moved to 13-under par thanks to a brilliant 64 to take a one-shot lead over three players into the final round of a DP World Tour Championship that saw fireworks galore on the aptly named ‘Moving Saturday’.
After early-morning fog delays gave way to a frantic stampede up the leaderboard, it was Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello who climbed the highest – from a tie for 23rd into the early clubhouse lead courtesy of a championship low round of 63, vaulting him into fourth place and in position to claim an elusive win in what has otherwise been an outstanding season.
Meanwhile, the ‘Belgian Bomber’, Nicolas Colsaerts, posted a 66 to sit just one back on 12-under, alongside a pair of young Englishmen, Tyrrell Hatton and Matthew Fitzpatrick, whose colourful scorecard included seven birdies, an eagle, a bogey and a double.
If the destination of the Race to Dubai trophy seems all but assured (after Open Champion Henrik Stenson moved to five-under and six clear of his nearest rival Danny Willett), then the DP World Tour Championship remains wide open, with no less than 11 players sitting within four strokes of Dubuisson’s lead.
The leader has a clear affinity with the venue this week having registered a string of high finishes at Jumeirah Golf Estates. “It’s just a course I like,” said Dubuisson, who finished with four birdies in the last five holes. “It’s long and you have to carry the ball a long way. It’s target golf and I like the way it sets up.”
Another man who clearly enjoys himself on the tour’s showpiece venue is Cabrera-Bello, who was in contention to win here two years ago before coming to grief in a deep fairway bunker on the difficult 16th. “I have posted really low rounds here before, so I know how to do it,” said the player who has made his career bow at the Masters, the Olympic Games and the Ryder Cup during a breakout year.
I’ve pretty much accomplished every single goal [this year] and many childhood dreams as well
“I played great today and the putts dropped in, so that was the difference. I’ve pretty much accomplished every single goal [this year] and many childhood dreams as well, so now just happy to put myself in position to get a third win [on tour].”
World no. 2 Rory McIlroy is eight back on five-under and all but out of contention to defend the title he won 12 months ago, but the Northern Irishman was still the talk of the tournament following a hilarious interview with the new scourge of European Tour golfers – a nine-year-old boy named Billy who pulls no punches.
Asked to name his favourite female tennis player and grilled on such topics as his refusal to play in the Olympics and failure to win a first Green Jacket, McIlroy later joked that he had found it tough going.
“I definitely had to put my thinking cap on a couple of times and try to wriggle out [of the questions] as best I could! I had a great time, and it’s nice to be able to show people that I can still laugh at myself.”
If the record crowds were anything to go by, McIlroy wasn’t the only one to have a great time during the third round here at a venue that offers so much more than just golf. While the birdies and eagles flew in on the Greg Norman designed Earth Course, approximately 20,000 fans descended on Jumeirah Golf Estates to enjoy the action, and the various festivities to be had in both the clubhouse and the spectator village.
It promises to be a memorable Sunday in the desert as this vintage European Tour season heads towards its climax.