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Published: 12:09 | 6/2/16

Superb back nine for McIlroy

Defending champ hits six birdies

Rory McIlroy looks set to relinquish his Dubai Desert Classic title but enjoyed a fantastic back nine at the Emirates Golf Club on Saturday.

The Northern Irishman has excelled following the turn in each of his three rounds in Dubai but performed particularly well on the third day, scoring six birdies and three pars.

However, McIlroy's hopes of retaining his crown had effectively been ended earlier.

One-up for the round following a three at the par-four second, the world number two hit a bogey-four at the eighth, before scoring a six for a double-bogey at the ninth.

Danny Willett leads the pack on 16-under following his second successive round of 65, with Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello second, one stroke off the top of the pile.

Willett's fellow Englishman, Andy Sullivan, lies third on 14-under, with Dutchman Joost Luiten (-13) and Haydn Porteous (-12) also very much amongst those in contention.

On par for the tournament, McIlroy's compatriot, Darren Clarke, missed the cut in Dubai.

By David Maher

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