Luke Donald is on the verge of becoming the first golfer to win the European and American money titles, shooting a 6-under 66 in the third round on Saturday to trail leader Alvaro Quiros by four strokes.
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The big-hitting Quiros shot a 70 to total 14-under 202 on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. But the top-ranked Donald is set to add the Race to Dubai to the American money title with his sole rival, Rory McIlroy, six shots off the pace after hitting a 71.
For McIlroy to win the European money title, he must win in Dubai and needs Donald to finish outside the top nine.
Donald is fourth, two shots behind Paul Lawrie (66) and one back from 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizien.
”I would be foolish to think it’s over,” Donald said of the Race to Dubai. ”Tomorrow it will be just like any other day in terms of focus. I will be trying to catch whomever is the leader and trying to win the tournament.
”Picked up the birdies when I had opportunities and really took full advantage of all those opportunities,” he added. ”Obviously, to score six birdies with no dropped shots was just the round I was looking for.”
McIlroy, who had a bogey and a deflating double-bogey on the front nine, conceded his bid to overtake Donald ”was over.”
”Luke is in a great position and he’s played great the past couple of days,” said McIlroy, whose girlfriend tennis star Caroline Wozniacki was on hand to watch him play. ”I expect him to go out and shoot another very solid round tomorrow and wrap things up.”
Donald said the key to his rise from 26th spot after the opening round was his short game, a noted strength all year. He opened with a birdie on a hole he had bogeyed the first two days, and then had three more birdies on the front nine. He slowed down on the back nine but birdied two of the last four holes.
”In a certain way, there was a lot of grind out there,” Donald said. ”It was a solid round of golf but certainly wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t 100 percent comfortable. I hit a few loose shots, but when I got into trouble I was able to really dig myself out of it with some great short game.”