Pieters leads Abu Dhabi, but DJ, Rory nearby


There was to be no soft return to tournament golf as McIlroy had world No 1 Dustin Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the recent European order of merit victor, as partners.

McIlroy put himself firmly in contention by moving just one shot behind joint-leaders Thomas Pieters and Ross Fisher with a seven-under 65 in the third round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

In front of millions on live TV and packed 15th hole at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Murphy rose to the occasion to hit a handsome 3-wood tee-shot on the 177-yard par-3 - hitting it well inside the golfing superstars of Fleetwood and Johnson. "Just been trying to play my game, and it's going pretty well so far, so I'll try and do the same thing".

Fisher carded a second consecutive 67 as the players took advantage of flawless conditions at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, with two-time victor Paul Casey a shot further back alongside Australia's Sam Brazel following a 65. "I'm really looking forward to tomorrow".

"I always struggle to read these greens, the color of them, and I feel like I'm hitting good putts and they are just sliding by the edges", McIlroy said.

Vincent sank six birdies yesterday, and on another day, that could have catapulted him somewhere close to the top of the leader-board with a very good chance of causing a major upset at the tournament.

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With 43 players driving an average distance of more than 300 yards last season, there have been some calls to alter the specification of balls to limit how far they fly.

Including a showcase of Abu Dhabi Golf Club's night golf offering, its outstanding F&B, luxurious interiors and world-recognised National Course, it is an intimate view of one of golf's leading destinations.

"We have a decent game plan".

After firing five birdies and no bogeys in his first 17 holes, Pieters produced a good par save at the last to remain at the summit and Fisher joined the Belgian on 17 under after closing his 7-under-par 65 with a birdie at the 18th. I feel like I've played around with it a little bit, and the results are showing.

Rory McIlroy need not have bothered to tell reporters that he is feeling "rejuvenated and refocused". But yeah, I couldn't really make a putt. A win this week would give him his first victory since the 2016 Tour Championship. "There were no mistakes, I played very solidly, very smart". I hit it really well, it was just really solid all day long.