Rory McIlroy one off leaders after third-round 65 in Abu Dhabi

Casey is back on the European Tour after a three-year absence
Casey is back on the European Tour after a three-year absenceROSS KINNAIRD GETTY IMAGES

21 January, 2018

Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

Rory McIlroy says he has been working on not being "one-dimensional" as he aims to end a 16-month trophy drought at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

EurAsia Cup team-mates Ross Fisher (65) and Thomas Pieters (67) share the lead after an enthralling third round and four-time Major victor McIlroy is just a shot off the pace.

After ending Saturday in a share of the lead, an upbeat Fisher said: "It was another good day".

World number six Justin Rose made a birdie on the 18th to finish on two under par. With any kind of luck, we'll get a premium finish on Sunday to cap off a great start to the European Tour year. He finished with a par and two birdies, though, including this tasty chip in on No. 17.

McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday. "I'm excited and looking forward to the challenge". "Not just for this week but for the rest of the season, as well".

"I've just got to go out there and let it freeflow and be quite aggressive, keep my foot down and hole a few because momentum-wise it makes the world of difference".

"The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls", the 2016 U.S. Open champion said.

"When the conditions are flawless and you see everybody making a bunch of birdies and I was hitting it close, but I just wasn't making the putts", said the 25-year-old world number 40. Then he blew his drive way out to the right and could only pitch out into the rough.

Sunday's final round will be far from a three-horse race, however.

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Dunne will partner Dylan Fritelli in the final round while McIlroy plays alongside Matt Fitzpatrick in the penultimate group. It's the first event of the year, and this is exactly where I want to be.

"When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message", Immelman said. "It's hard not to".

"All I thought of was just give myself chances on the green and I felt like I could hole them".

But Fitzpatrick also said that it was a bit of a slog at times and that he simply made everything he looked at.

I'm just going to try and do the same as I've done these last three days. "But mine was I little bit different story, probably the most hard". Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

"Maybe take it to bed, I don't know", joked Fitzpatrick, who was happy despite missing out on equalling the course record of 62, set by Henrik Stenson on the same day in the inaugural running of the tournament, in 2006.

I can not possibly overstate this: Fleetwood flushes it.

"I mean, I hit most of the middle of the greens".

The birdies dried up somewhat on the back nine and eventually Fisher reeled him in with a birdie on the last to lead on -17 under.

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