DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Rory McIlroy was within sight of a first title in 17 months after the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic where he lay only one shot behind surprise leader Li Haotong on Saturday.
McIlroy, who finished his second round in the morning, surprisingly struggled for the first time in seven rounds into his comeback from a three-month layoff, and was 1-over par at the turn in the third round.
The four-time major champion then recovered with five birdies on the back nine for a 4-under 68 and 19 under overall that put him one behind Li.
Li, in the leader group with McIlroy, shot a bogey-free 64 at Emirates Golf Club.
Li, the highest ranked Chinese male player in the world at No. 60, produced a brilliant display of iron play and putting to be in great position to add to his only previous European Tour win, the 2016 China Open.
He needed just 24 putts to complete his round, and said: “It’s going to be fun out there tomorrow.”
McIlroy’s last win was in August 2016 at the…