Rory McIlroy propelled himself to within two shots of the lead ahead of Sunday's final round at the Dubai Desert Classic.

The world number eight carded a third-round 69 to rise up to second on the leaderboard on 10 under at the Emirates Golf Club to put himself right in contention for victory behind current leader Justin Harding.

Padraig Harrington also carded a 69 to climb into a tie for 11th on seven under, while Shane Lowry's 68 has the Offaly man four shots further back in joint-23rd.


In a more mixed round than his bogey-free effort on Friday, McIlroy's four birdies were balanced out by bogeys on holes three, 11 and 16.

But it was his eagle on the 10th which briefly moved him to within one shot of the lead and ultimately proved crucial in putting him in the mix for Sunday's closing round.

The Northern Irishman is one clear of England's Tommy Fleetwood and South Africa's Erik van Rooyen who are third on nine under after a 69 and 71 respectively.

Harrington, meanwhile, followed up consecutive birdies on two and three with a pair of bogeys on the fifth and sixth but the three-time major winner picked up further shots on 10, 14 and 18 to put himself in the hunt for a top 10 finish, with the Dubliner in a tie for 11th with Lee Westwood.

Lowry had a strong day with the only setbacks being a bogey on the 12th after a double bogey on nine. But seven birdies saw him card a four-under par round for Saturday.

McIlroy, who won this even in 2009 and 2015, and filled the runner up berth four years ago, said afterwards: "I'm excited. Had a really good chance in 2018 and let it slip through my fingers there when Haotong won. Good to give myself another opportunity.

"It would be nice to get another win, especially here in Dubai. But it’s obviously nice to get a win anywhere early in the season. So I’ve just got to go out there tomorrow and try to play a good round of golf and hopefully it’s good enough.

"Some good things in there and a couple of bad things as well and I feel like it all evened out by the end and it was nice to birdie the last and shoot something in the 60s and play myself into the final group tomorrow."