Rory McIlroy wasted a glorious opportunity to win a third Dubai Desert Classic title in a gripping conclusion that saw Viktor Hovland edge Richard Bland in a play-off.

After making steady progress up the leaderboard on Friday and Saturday, McIlroy had a share of the lead alongside Hovland and Bland heading into the final hole on Sunday.

But the four-time major winner, aiming to add to his 2009 and 2015 triumphs in Dubai, sent his approach shot from 267 yards way right on the 18th and it ended in the water.

McIlroy gave himself hope by chipping a shot within 15 feet of the hole to remain on course for par, but his stroke brushed the cup and left him 11-under for the tournament.

That put him a stroke behind Hovland and Bland, who carded a six-under 66 and four-under 68 for the day respectively to finish level and take the competition to an extra hole at the Emirates Golf Club.

Hovland finished strongly with two birdies and an eagle on the final three holes to set the clubhouse lead, which Bland matched with two birdies in a row to conclude his round.

It was Hovland who prevailed in the first play-off hole, the Norwegian rolling in a three-footer for par after Bland's bogey opened the door.

The 24-year-old has now won three of his last five events, having also prevailed at the Hero World Challenge and Mayakoba Golf Classic towards the end of 2021.

Hovland started the day six strokes behind overnight leader Justin Harding, who endured a poor final round, which included a triple-bogey on the 11th to finish in joint-fourth.

"This is pretty wild. I didn't really think this was possible going into today," Hovland said.

"I knew I had to shoot a really low number but a lot of things had to go my way and I am thankful that they did."

Rory McIlroy remains in contention to win the Dubai Desert Classic for a third time after moving to within two shots of leader Justin Harding ahead of the final round.

The four-time major winner shot up the leaderboard into a share of fifth place on Friday, four behind Harding, and halved that deficit with a three-under 69 third round on Saturday.

McIlroy, who previously won the tournament as a 19-year-old in 2009 and again in 2015, initially struggled to make up ground as he found himself just one under after nine holes.

An eagle at the par-five 10th breathed fresh life into the Northern Irishman's round, though he balanced out a couple of birdies with two bogeys in a rather mixed back nine.

But the former world number one is now 10 under for the tournament and hot on the heels of Harding, who added to his opening rounds of 65 and 68 with a one-under 71.

"I think it was a fair reflection of how I played," McIlroy said. "There were a couple of good things and a couple of bad things in there, but I feel like it all evened out by the end.

"It was nice to birdie the last, shoot something in the 60s and play myself into the last group tomorrow.

"I think as well, this late in the day, it starts to get hard to hole putts on the greens because they're a little crusty and got progressively faster as the day went on.

"I started to putt a little more defensively on the back nine. All of that leads to a pretty challenging day."

McIlroy's Ryder Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood is a shot further back after recovering from back-to-back bogeys at the fifth and sixth to move to nine under.

Erik van Rooyen also trails Harding by three shots, while Paul Casey, Tyrrell Hatton, Bernd Wiesberger, Richard Bland, Adrian Meronk and Fabrizio Zanotti are four off the pace.

Hatton started round three in second place, but he lacked consistency on Saturday and was made to pay for a double-bogey at the 15th when finding the water.

Shane Lowry enjoyed the lowest-scoring round of the day at the Majlis Course with 68, despite a double-bogey at the ninth, though he is way down in joint-23rd. 

Rory McIlroy predicted he would enjoy the weekend at the Dubai Desert Classic after a 66 on day two moved him firmly into contention.

The former world number one vaulted up the leaderboard into a share of fifth place, following up a steady 71 with a bogey-free round containing four birdies and an eagle.

A two-time winner of this tournament, having been champion as a 19-year-old in 2009 and again in 2015, McIlroy has happy memories and there could be more cause to celebrate come Sunday.

He moved to seven under par through 36 holes, putting him just four shots behind the leader, Justin Harding of South Africa, who added a 68 to his opening 65.

England's Tyrrell Hatton sits second on nine under after matching McIlroy's score. Nobody beat 66 in the second round, with Germany's Nicolai von Dellingshausen also making the same score, in his case atoning for an opening 77 to reach a share of 38th place.

South African Erik van Rooyen and Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti share second on eight under par, with McIlroy one shot back in a group that also includes England's Richard Bland, Norway's Viktor Hovland, Adrian Meronk of Poland, and the first-round leader Joachim B Hansen, who had four bogeys and four birdies in a level-par 72. Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood and Paul Casey were all on six under.

McIlroy chipped in for eagle at 13, while leader Harding, who began on the back nine, holed from 183 yards at the par-four sixth.

There was satisfaction but also frustration for McIlroy after his round, as he said: "It could have been way lower. I certainly hit the ball good enough for it to be a few shots lower. I hit the ball as good as I've done in a long time, and it could have been a few better, but 66 is a good score and sets me up for a nice weekend."

McIlroy said he had been making technical alterations to his swing on the range, and added: "I thought I hit my irons a lot better today and was in control of the driver a bit better too."

To his frustration, McIlroy has not won a major since reaching four big ones in 2014, but he had two victories on the PGA Tour last year and was firmly in the hunt for the DP World Tour Championship in November until a closing 74 scuppered his chances.

The Northern Irishman tied for 12th last week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, enjoying a strong weekend after only just making the cut. This time he is in a better position from which to strike, and he likes his game at the moment.

"I think with how I ended last year, I certainly found something. I got a little bit of momentum, I won on the PGA Tour and had a really good chance to win here in Dubai at the end of last season," McIlroy said speaking to the DP World Tour website.

"But it feels good. There are so many ebbs and flows in this game and the career's so long that it's hard to compare one season to the next, and how you're feeling and how you're hitting it. But looking back on my last 12 or 14 years, the body of work is there.

"I've played well when I haven't felt so good and I've played poorly when I've felt really good. So it's just a matter of keep showing up each and every day and try your best and try to put the lowest score possible on the scorecard and move on."

Calum Hill dropped into a share of the lead with Robert MacIntyre and Richard Bland by bogeying the last hole in his second round at the British Masters.

Hill held a one-shot advantage when he teed off at the 18th at The Belfry on Thursday, but moved to back seven under in a disappointing finish.

The 26-year-old Kirkcaldy native was a shot back from overnight leader Matthias Schwab at the start of the day and a two-under 70 kept him firmly in the mix.

Hill birdied the third and chipped in from thick greenside rough to go seven under at the fourth, going out in 35 after a first bogey of the day at the par-four eighth.

Back-to-back gains followed straight after the turn, but he was unable to stay out on his own, bogeying the final hole after reeling off six consecutive pars.

MacIntyre made his move with a brilliant six-under 66, starting with five birdies in a row and picking up another three shots on the back nine after bogeys at the sixth and 12th.

The left-hander, tied for 12th in The Masters last month, had started the tournament with a 71, but surged up the leaderboard with a magnificent second round.

Bland backed up his opening 68 with a three-under 69 and the Englishman is bogey-free through his opening two rounds.

Frenchman Julien Guerrier signed for a sublime 66 to stand well poised just a shot off the leading trio along with Justin Harding and Eddie Pepperell.

Justin Harding's remarkable run of form at Karen Country Club finally came to an end as a disappointing final day opened the door for Daniel Van Tonder to claim a dramatic play-off triumph at the Kenya Savannah Classic.

Harding had won the Magical Kenya Open at the same course on Sunday and was in pole position to claim back-to-back titles in quick succession heading into Friday's play.

The South African held a three-stroke lead over a clutch of players including compatriot Van Tonder and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond.

But as most of the field shot low in the final round, Harding was way off the pace.

The 35-year-old, who had claimed to have "a good game plan around here", carded three birdies and three bogeys to approach the 18th at even par.

A double-bogey then capped a miserable day and knocked Harding out of the top 10, two over for the day and 15 under for the tournament in 13th.

Janewattananond appeared set to be the man to capitalise as he claimed a narrow lead with a run of six birdies in seven holes from the seventh.

But a bogey at the 16th, where he had scored an incredible birdie putt 24 hours earlier, knocked him back down to a seven-under 64, which Van Tonder matched.

Janewattananond had missed a 17-foot chance at the last, but the drama was only just getting started as the pair could not be separated through the first two play-off holes.

Van Tonder could not convert putts on either occasion but escape thos miscues unpunished, a brilliant approach shot teeing up a simple finish for his first European Tour title.

Justin Harding shot a final-round 66 to win the Magical Kenya Open and get even with runner-up Kurt Kitayama.

The South African, who was tied second in this event two years ago, missed out to Kitayama at the 2019 Mauritius Open when the duo went head-to-head in the final pairing.

But it was Harding's turn to take the bragging rights as he signed a blemish-free scorecard to finish 21 under, two strokes ahead of playing partner Kitayama in Nairobi.

"Kurt's an unbelievable competitor," said Harding. "I got him back for Mauritius.

"It was hard work. I was happy with the way I played.

"I'm glad I shot one better than a couple of years ago, I was bummed about that, but I'm just happy with the way I managed my game."

Sunday proved a low-scoring day, with Connor Syme climbing into third after a closing 64, while Spain's Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez carded a 63 to round out the top four.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.