Rory McIlroy stormed back into the lead of the Abu Dhabi Championship to set up a thrilling final day that will see him duel with Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood for glory.

Three of golf's leading names occupy the top three spots on the leaderboard after a dramatic Saturday at the Rolex Series event.

A 67 from McIlroy moved him to 13 under par for the tournament, one shot clear of Hatton, who dropped back after thriving in round two.

Fleetwood also registered a five-under 67 and sits in striking distance at 11 under.

Marc Warren and David Lipsky are in the hunt at 10 under, while Rafa Cabrera-Bello (-9) will hope a fast start can see him move into contention.

Hatton entered day three in control of the tournament, acknowledging himself he was in "a great position".

But after bad light caused a suspension of play on day two, the first task was to complete the second round, and Hatton's momentum stalled.

He was one over in completing his last five holes while two birdies from McIlroy moved him closer to the Englishman, three shots behind at the start of round three.

It did not get much better for Hatton, who eventually had to settle for a 71, comfortably his worst score of the week.

But he remains right behind world number six McIlroy, who had an eagle and five birdies in a magnificent third round, with bogeys on seven and 13 his only setbacks.

Fleetwood was one of the fortunate players who had completed his round on day two, and he had six birdies on Saturday, picking up a crucial one at 18 to move himself closer to the leaders.

World number three Justin Thomas, in the spotlight after a controversy over his use of a homophobic slur at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii this month, missed the cut. 

The American was two under through 14 holes when play was halted on Friday, but a miserable double-bogey on 18 ended his hopes.

A poor 75 from defending champion Lee Westwood in round three left him out of the running.

Leader McIlroy has enjoyed a remarkable career but victory on Sunday would be the first time he has triumphed in a Rolex Series event.

Despite not winning it, he has an impressive record at this tournament, having been runner-up four times and coming third on three occasions.

Tyrrell Hatton acknowledged he had put himself in a great position for glory at the Abu Dhabi Championship as he surged past overnight leader Rory McIlroy. 

Round two will have to be completed on Saturday after bad light caused a suspension of play a day after fog had impacted the opening round. 

But Englishman Hatton was an impressive five under par for the 13 holes he was able to play, surging on to 12 under for the tournament. 

That gave him a five-shot advantage over a group of four players, including McIlroy, at the Rolex Series event. 

Jason Scrivener, Jazz Janewattananond and Romain Langasque are with McIlroy at seven under. 

"I'm obviously in a great position at the moment," said Hatton. "It was certainly tough out there, so I'm really happy to be five under [for the round]. 

"I held some nice putts and there were a couple of par putts towards the end of my round - nice to hold them and keep a bit of momentum going. 

"It [a long day on Saturday] will be fine. I'll just try and stay loose and see how we go."

Hatton, with his short game thriving, eagled the second hole and then immediately gave one of those shots back at the third. 

But four straight birdies between holes seven and 10 provided him with a commanding lead. 

McIlroy had started the day with a one-shot advantage at eight under and quickly improved to 10 under through three holes. 

However, the Northern Irishman fell apart from there with three bogeys and a double bogey in the 10 holes that followed before the suspension of play gave him some respite after 13. 

Tommy Fleetwood was able to complete his round, an impressive five-under 67 moving him to within a shot of McIlroy as part of a five-man group sitting at six under. 

World number three Justin Thomas, in the spotlight after a controversy over his use of a homophobic slur at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month, fared better than he did on day one. 

The American was two under through 14 holes when play was brought to an end, improving to one under for the week but still 11 shots adrift of Hatton. 

Reigning champion Lee Westwood is three under in a tie for 24th position.

Rory McIlroy put his lowest-scoring round at the Abu Dhabi Championship down to precision putting as the four-time major winner shot a first-round 64.

The Northern Irishman, paired with the under-fire Justin Thomas, had to be patient as play was delayed amid fog but he made up for lost time in eye-catching fashion.

McIlroy closed day one on eight under, putting the 31-year-old a shot clear of Ryder Cup team-mate Tyrrell Hatton, with Fabrizio Zanotti a stroke further back.

The delay meant not everyone managed to complete 18 holes, but McIlroy was pleased to be sitting pretty in the clubhouse. 

"A lot of it was very good. I felt like I drove the ball well for the most part. Distance control was really good," McIlroy said of a display which saw him sink four birdies apiece on the front and back nine.

"I think I started off really well and hit a lot of nice iron shots, but honestly it was probably the best I've putted these greens in Abu Dhabi probably in my whole career.

"I've shot some really good scores here but I held some really good ones today.

"And I've always struggled to read them here, but I sort of got my eye in early and kept it going."

After becoming embroiled in recent controversy for his use of a homophobic slur, McIlroy's playing partner Thomas found himself well off the pace on one over.

The American was dropped by sponsor Ralph Lauren following the incident, in which the world number three was heard making an offensive comment by a television microphone when playing at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month.

Thomas subsequently apologised for his "inexcusable" use of the slur.

Reigning champion Lee Westwood carded a 69, putting him in a big group on three under, with English compatriot Justin Rose for company, though the Olympic champion managed only 11 holes.

Justin Thomas insists his "embarrassing" and "humiliating" use of a homophobic slur is "not me" and reflected on Ralph Lauren's decision to stop working with him as a result of the incident.

World number three Thomas was heard making the offensive comment by a television microphone when playing at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month.

Afterwards, Thomas apologised for his "inexcusable" use of the slur and he again addressed the issue when previewing the Abu Dhabi Championship on the European Tour this weekend. 

"It's humiliating. It's embarrassing. It's not me. It's not a word that I use, but for some reason, it was in there," Thomas said. 

"And that's what I'm trying to figure out as to why it was in there, and just like I said, it's going to be a part of this process and training program or whatever I need to do, not only to prove to myself but prove to my sponsors and prove to those people that don't know who I am that that is indeed not the person I am."

Thomas will be playing without shirt branding in Abu Dhabi after Ralph Lauren opted to end its partnership with the 27-year-old.

Asked about the company's decision, Thomas replied: "I think disappointed is the wrong word. 

"Obviously I was upset. But at the end of the day, they have that right. They had to make the decision that they had to make. I spoke with them along with all my sponsors. 

"Although I apologised, it's like it was then; it's an opportunity for me to grow and I felt like it was something we could have done together and gone through that process. 

"They just felt like they needed to move on. That's exactly what I'm doing, as well. It was a great run that we had and a great partnership, but you know, things will work out on the best."

Thomas confirmed conversations have been held with his other sponsors, adding: "I've had great communication with all of them. 

"It was obviously not calls or e-mails I was hoping or planning to make but I needed to because I have some great long-lasting partnerships with all my sponsors. They know that's not the person that I am.

"They know that's not how I act and although they are far from brushing it to the side just like I am, they understand that this is an opportunity for me to educate myself, grow, become a better person, and just like they hope, I know that I'll become a better man and a better person because of it, and they are going to kind of help me along that process."

Thomas earned the backing of Rory McIlroy, who is confident his on-course rival will learn from his error in judgement.

"I think he's already responded really, really well," the four-time major winner said. 

"I think he realised he made a big mistake as soon as it was brought to him and he completely owned up to it. He said he messed up; he's going to try to be better. 

"And you know, Justin is true to his word. He will be. If anything, it will probably just make him a better person than he already is, which is hard because he's already a great guy."

Harris English secured his first win since 2013 with a play-off victory at the Tournament of Champions on Sunday.

The American carded a four-under 69 in the final round to finish alongside Joaquin Niemann (64) at the end of regulation in Kapalua, Hawaii.

English stepped up to birdie the par-five 18th hole in the play-off, overcoming Niemann for his first win since 2013.

"It's incredible," he told the Golf Channel after his third PGA Tour success.

"A lot of hard work over the years, you never think you're going to get here again, winning twice back in 2013 and it's just hard to win out here.

"I had a really good chance this week and felt good about my game and you've just got to get it done."

Niemann produced a stunning nine-under 64 in the final round to finish at 25 under.

But English birdied his final hole to force a play-off and he delivered to secure the title.

Two-time champion Justin Thomas (66) finished at 24 under, a shot ahead of Ryan Palmer (71).

Im Sung-jae (69) and Xander Schauffele (66) ended up tied for fifth at 21 under.

World number two Jon Rahm got going with a six-under 67, but it was only enough to finish tied for seventh alongside Bryson DeChambeau (66) and Collin Morikawa (73).

Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, carded a second straight 69 to finish tied for 11th.

Justin Thomas apologised for using an "inexcusable" homophobic slur during the third round of the Tournament of Champions on Saturday.

Defending champion Thomas' comment was picked up by a television microphone after he missed a five-foot putt for par on the fourth hole.

"It's inexcusable, first off I just apologise. There's just no excuse. I'm an adult, I'm a grown man - there's absolutely no reason for me to say anything like that. It's terrible," the 2017 PGA Championship winner told the Golf Channel.

"I'm extremely embarrassed. It's not the kind of person that I am.

"Unfortunately, I did it, and I have to own up to it and I'm very apologetic. I'm speechless. I found out when I got done with my round. It's bad. There's no other way to put it.

"I need to do better, I need to be better. It's definitely a learning experience. I deeply apologise to anyone and everybody who I offended, and I'll be better because of it."

Thomas finished his round by carding a five-under 68, which saw him slip three places down the leaderboard for a share of fifth alongside Sungjae Im on 17 under for the tournament.

Ryan Palmer and Harris English finished Saturday's action in Hawaii as joint-leaders, the former producing the best round of the day – a nine-under 64.

Palmer and English hold a one-shot lead over Collin Morikawa, with Daniel Berger two further back in fourth.

English could have been the sole leader had Palmer been issued with a penalty for kicking the soil after seeing a chip on the par-five ninth start to roll back from the elevated green.

Players are not allowed to deliberately alter physical conditions while the ball is in motion, but officials determined he was not attempting to improve his lie.

"There was no intention of me trying to abuse the rule. There was no way, because that ball wasn't even going to be close to where I was at," Palmer said.

"[Rules official John Munch] showed me the video and I looked at it and I go, what am I looking at? And it took me watching it twice to understand what he was talking about.

"In disgust, I kicked a divot, but the ball was five feet away from me where it ended up stopping … there was no intention of me trying to help my ball because there was no way my ball was even close to where I was at.

"I was just discussing with James [Edmondson, his caddie] I hit the wrong wedge on the chip shot, in disgust, and then when I got there, I just kind of did the old kick the divot, p***** off motion."

Harris English pulled two strokes clear at the halfway mark of the Tournament of Champions as Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm made their moves.

English, who shared the overnight lead with Justin Thomas, carded a six-under 67 in the second round in Kapalua, Hawaii on Friday.

The American produced a bogey-free round that featured six birdies to move into 14 under at the first PGA Tour event of 2021.

English is two shots ahead of Thomas (69), Daniel Berger (65), Collin Morikawa (65) and Ryan Palmer (67).

Thomas, a two-time champion of the tournament, made four birdies on his front nine but a bogey at 13 slowed his momentum before picking up another shot at the last.

The world's two top-ranked players, Johnson and Rahm, charged into contention.

Johnson, who opened with a 71, made eight birdies in a second-round eight-under 65 to get to 10 under – enough for a tie for 10th.

Rahm is alongside him after the Spaniard produced a fast finish, birdieing five of his final seven holes.

Xander Schauffele (66), Brendon Todd (67), Im Sung-jae (68) and Patrick Reed (68) are tied for sixth at 11 under.

Joining Johnson and Rahm at 10 under are Scottie Scheffler (66), Bryson DeChambeau (67), Joaquin Niemann (67), Carlos Ortiz (67) and Patrick Cantlay (68).

Justin Thomas carded an eight-under 65 to share the lead after the opening round of the Tournament of Champions on Thursday.

Two-time champion Thomas produced a bogey-free first round that included eight birdies in Kapalua, Hawaii.

The world number three, winner of the event in 2017 and 2020, made five birdies on the front nine and three on his final five holes.

Thomas shares a two-stroke lead with Harris English in the first PGA Tour event of the year.

The highlight of English's round was an eagle at the ninth hole, where he chipped in from just off the green.

On what is a congested leaderboard, six players are tied for third at six under.

Sergio Garcia, Robert Streb, Nick Taylor, Ryan Palmer, Im Sung-jae and Patrick Reed all opened with 67s.

Garcia won the tournament in 2002, while Reed was victorious in 2015 and has two runner-up finishes since – including last year.

Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay and Brendon Todd carded five-under 68s.

World number one Dustin Johnson is back in a tie for 30th after opening with a 71, while Jon Rahm carded a 70.

Tiger Woods and son Charlie once again took centre stage but it was Justin Thomas and dad Mike who claimed the PNC Championship trophy.

Charlie, aged just 11, was competing in the tournament with 15-time-major-winning father Tiger and showed off his golf repertoire at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.

The pair combined for a 10-under 62 on day one, leaving them four shots off the pace, and matched that total on Sunday with some impressive combination play.

Charlie got Team Woods off to a flier with a birdie at the third, which the pair celebrated with a trademark fist bump.

They also eagled the par-five fifth and 14th, but that was not enough to challenge for the title as they finished down in seventh.

Team Kuchar and Team Kite finished two shots better off in a tie for fifth, while Team Trevino and Team O'Meara were joint-third at 23 under.

Thomas Jr and 61-year-old father Mike came out on top on 25 under, finishing one stroke ahead of Team Singh.

Team Thomas started with seven straight birdies and finished with 15 across a bogey-free Sunday.

Viktor Hovland became the first player to make birdie at the 72nd hole to win the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Hovland was tied for the lead alongside Aaron Wise on the final hole at El Camaleon Golf Club, where the Norwegian drained a birdie for the stunning walk-off victory.

The 23-year-old Hovland captured his second PGA Tour title with his clutch one-stroke triumph in Mexico on Sunday, having also won February's Puerto Rico Open.

Hovland, who posted a final-round 65 to finish 20 under, became the fifth European player since 1945 to claim multiple PGA Tour trophies before the age of 24, following Rory McIlroy (six), Seve Ballesteros (three), Sergio Garcia (three) and Jon Rahm (two).

"I don't really feel like I'm very good at those pressure situations," Hovland said afterwards.

"I was shaking there in the end - I thought I lost it after the second shot on 16 and made an awesome par there but missed a putt on 17 and knew I needed to make birdie on 18 and it just happened to go in.

"[I] don't feel comfortable in those moments at all."

American Wise had to settle for the runners-up cheque following his eight-under-par 63, while countrymen Adam Long (67) and Tom Hoge (69) ended the tournament 17 under.

Harris English (63), Billy Horschel (64) and Lucas Glover (66) were a stroke further back, while Brendon Todd (66) saw his title defence end in a tie for eighth, alongside Tony Finau (67), Carlos Ortiz (66) and overnight leader Emiliano Grillo (72).

Austin Eckroat became the third amateur to shoot a 65 or better in the final round of a non-major PGA Tour event since 1983.

Eckroat (65) earned a share of 12th position at 14 under, and he was joined by former world number one Justin Thomas (69), who was unable to maintain his title charge.

Emiliano Grillo carded a three-under-par 68 as he retained his lead after the third round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Grillo holed five birdies and two bogeys to remain top of the leaderboard by one stroke at the El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen in Mexico on Saturday.

The Argentinian, whose only win on the PGA Tour came in 2015, was four shots clear at the start of the penultimate round.

Heading into Sunday's final round, Grillo is ahead of American golfer Tom Hoge (65) at 16 under through 54 holes as four-time major champion Brooks Koepka (71) and Rickie Fowler (72) missed the cut after the second round concluded early on Saturday.

Viktor Hovland is a stroke further back following his eight-under-par 63, having birdied four of his last six holes to post a career-low-tying score.

Former world number one Justin Thomas surged into contention thanks to a flawless nine-under-par 63 to be four shots behind Grillo.

Thomas had nine birdies without a bogey as the American star and 2017 US PGA Championship winner ended the day 12 under, alongside Patrick Rodgers (65).

Making his second Mayakoba start, Thomas birdied five of his last seven holes to close the round one stroke shy of Roland Thatcher's 2008 tournament record.

Emiliano Grillo charged into a four-stroke lead before the second round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic was suspended due to darkness on Friday.

The Argentinian carded an eight-under 63 at the El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen in Mexico, where Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler struggled, to move into 13 under.

Grillo, whose only win on the PGA Tour came in 2015, is four shots ahead of Tom Hoge (67) and Tony Finau (66).

After a difficult start to 2020 saw him miss the cut at eight of his first 13 tournaments, to go with a disqualification at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Grillo has found some better form later in the year.

He mixed nine birdies with one bogey in the second round, which was delayed by an hour due to inclement weather and later suspended because of darkness.

Only 18 players were yet to finish their second rounds, with Andy Ogletree the best-placed, the American – who is making his professional debut – sitting at seven under through 15 holes.

Hoge and Finau are Grillo's nearest challengers, while overnight leader Russell Knox is at eight under after shooting a 69.

Joel Dahmen (67), Aaron Wise (68) and Kyle Stanley (67) are in the group alongside Ogletree in a tie for fifth.

Coming off a win at the Houston Open and a runner-up finish at the Mayakoba Golf Classic last year, Carlos Ortiz (69) is at six under, tied for ninth with eight others.

World number three Justin Thomas bounced back with a 67 to get to three under, sitting in a tie for 34th.

However, Koepka (71) and Fowler (72) are projected to miss the cut after getting to even par – one shot adrift of making the weekend with the second round yet to be completed.

Russell Knox earned a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico.

Scottish golfer Knox carded a six-under-par 65 to set the early pace at El Camaleon Golf Club on Thursday.

Knox only dropped one shot on day one of the PGA Tour tournament, holing seven birdies to top the leaderboard ahead of Joaquin Niemann, Emiliano Grillo – who extended his streak of par-or-better rounds in the event to a perfect 17-for-17 – and Tom Hoge.

A two-time Tour champion but without a title since 2016, Knox has claimed just two over-par scores in 29 rounds at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo.

In his seven previous starts at the event, Knox claimed top-10 finishes in 2015 (tied for second), 2016 (T3) and 2017 (T9), while the most recent of his two 18-hole leads/co-leads before this week came via this season's Safeway Open (T9).

Viktor Hovland, Tony Finau, Carlos Ortiz, defending champion Brendon Todd, Aaron Wise, Nate Lashley, Akshay Bhatia and Michael Gligic are two shots off the pace.

In his first start since claiming his maiden Tour title at the Houston Open, Ortiz posted his 16th consecutive round of par-or-better this season.

Rickie Fowler ended the round one under par, four-time major champion Brooks Koepka posted a 71 to be six shots behind Knox heading into the second day, while Justin Thomas was a stroke worse off.

Jon Rahm moved into a five-way share of the lead when the second round of The Masters was completed and Bryson DeChambeau only just avoided missing the cut on Saturday.

Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Abraham Ancer and Cameron Smith topped the leaderboard after completing 36 holes before play was halted in fading light at Augusta on Friday.

Rahm holed a short birdie putt when he resumed at the 13th hole to join that quartet and the world number two remained at nine under after signing for a 66 following five consecutive pars.

The composed Spaniard chipped in from the edge of the green at 15 to remain a joint-leader of a major that is finely poised on moving day.

DeChambeau was in danger of making an early exit, but sneaked in for the rest of the weekend by the skin of his teeth, moving just about the cut line despite finishing with back-to-back bogeys to sign for a 74.

Pre-tournament favourite DeChambeau, who revealed a COVID-19 test he took after playing on Friday as he was feeling dizzy came back negative, faced an anxious wait to see if the cut line would be moved but the U.S. Open champion was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Patrick Reed moved into the top 10 after heading back out for an early start, picking up a couple of shots to sit in contention on eight under with a second successive four-under 68.

Defending champion Tiger Woods is just four shots off the pace on a congested leaderboard following a second round of 71, a birdie at 15 moving him on to five under.

Justin Rose, the leader at the end of a weather-affected first day, carded a two-under 70 and is two shots adrift of the leaders.

 

Justin Thomas said you have to "throw all past knowledge out the window this week" as the American star eyes his first Masters title.

Thomas, world number one Dustin Johnson, Masters debutant Abraham Ancer and Australian Cameron Smith are all nine under through 36 holes at Augusta.

Former world number one Thomas claimed the 2017 US PGA Championship, though he has never won the Masters – last year's 12th-place finish his best performance to date.

Thomas has improved in every Masters appearance since 2016, but the 2020 edition is like no other after the iconic major was rescheduled from its original April start to November in Georgia amid the coronavirus pandemic.

After carding a second-round 69, Thomas told reporters: "I know the golf course, I know what to do, what not to do. I know the subtle nuances. I just simply haven't executed it and performed it well. 

"You have to really throw all past knowledge out the window this week, as weird as it is. I had a chip on 15 this morning to that front pin that usually would be just brutal and really, really hard to hit close, and I had to trust that I just kind of had to gas it and hit it pretty hard and it was going to spin. Balls are making pitchmarks with chip shots and pitch shots. 

"A lot of the history and things that you know about the golf course, it can sometimes hurt you this week because of what you're used to. But at the end of the day, it is a lot softer and a lot more scorable, obviously, but it really has just come down to executing a little bit better and minimising the mistakes."

Asked how difficult it is to throw away that past history and knowledge and trust the now and new conditions, Thomas said: "It's really hard… it is weird, but everyone's dealing with it. It's not like I'm the only one that has to adjust or make or may be uncomfortable in certain situations. The entire field is dealing with the same thing."

Ancer enjoyed a fine second round, the Mexican signing for a five-under-par 67 to earn a share of the overnight lead.

He is trying to become the second Mexican player to win in as many weeks on the PGA Tour, after Carlos Ortiz claimed last week's Houston Open.

Asked about his Masters invitation, Ancer said: "It was awesome. I actually have it framed in my house, so it's right there in my living room, and it's something that I dreamt since I was a little kid to play here. I was really, really excited to be here my first time ever, I've never been to the tournament or watched, anything, was last week. I played with a member, Nick Evans, awesome, I couldn't have picked a better guy well, I'm lucky he picked me, I guess. I didn't pick anybody. 

"It's been amazing, and I know maybe it's not the same as in April, but I mean, it's incredible and I love it out here, I love the golf course, and I think this is probably one of my favourite places in the world."

Smith (68) added: "It's obviously good to be in contention on a weekend, and I feel like I've been there enough where I can have a good crack at it."

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