The race for the Harry Vardon Trophy ramped up as Rory McIlroy surged up the leaderboard, with Jon Rahm leading the way after three rounds of the DP World Tour Championship.
McIlroy made a slow start to the tournament and was treading water after 33 holes, but a birdie, birdie, eagle finish on Friday gave him some momentum and he followed that up on Saturday with a round of 65 to climb to 12-under.
Matt Fitzpatrick is McIlroy’s main rival for the Harry Vardon Trophy, which is awarded to the DP World Tour’s golfer of the year, and the Englishman faltered a shade on Saturday with a round of 70 to drop to second place on the leaderboard behind Rahm.
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If the event were to finish after 54 holes, McIlroy’s surge to a tie for fourth on the leaderboard would be enough to secure him the Harry Vardon Trophy - meaning there is much to play for going into the final round.
Rahm is out of the running for the Harry Vardon Trophy, but his focus is on winning the tournament.
The Spaniard did not have his best form off the tee, but his iron play was out of the top drawer and his round of 65 moved him to 15-under.

Third Round Leaderboard

  • 1. Jon Rahm, 15-under
  • 2. Matt Fitzpatrick, 14-under
  • 3. Alex Noren, 13-under
  • T4. Tyrrell Hatton, 12-under
  • T4. Rory McIlroy, 12-under
  • T6. Tommy Fleetwood, 10-under
  • T6. Adrian Meronk, 10-under
“I don’t think I could have shot any lower today,” Rahm said. “I maximised the round.
“It was not my best off the tee, but I was able to get some birdies out of some not so good situations.
“I did not hit any of the fairways on the par-fives, and still played them at three-under.
“I am hoping tomorrow I can be a little better off the tee and keep the good iron play.”
McIlroy has the Harry Vardon Trophy and the tournament to play for, and he is trending in the right direction.
Bogeys on one and three cancelled out an eagle on two, but seven birdies propelled him into contention - and the rest of the pack will be aware of the world No. 1’s presence.
“It would be really cool to end the year No. 1 on the DP World Tour,” McIlroy said. “I’ve gotten to this stage in the game over 15 years as a pro, and I’m still trying to do things for the first time. I’ve never won the FedEx Cup and this tour’s rankings in the same year, so it would be really nice.
“It’s been a wonderful year. I’ve played some really, really great golf and really consistent golf. If I’m able to go out there tomorrow and shoot a good score and get the job done, it would be a really nice way to end what’s been a great year.”
Fitzpatrick could still deny McIlroy, and he ensured he would be in the final group on Sunday by getting up and down from the side of the green on 18 after sending his second shot into the water.
After playing sublime golf for the opening two days, Fitzpatrick was a shade wayward. But he got round in two-under and will hope his worst round of the week is behind him.
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