Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Not much separates the top two players in the world these days, and after three rounds of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, there is nothing separating the two.
Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald both fired 6-under 66s on Saturday to remain atop the leaderboard after 54 holes. They ended three rounds at 17-under-par 199.
Their total of 199 set a new tournament 54-hole scoring record. Lee Westwood established the old mark of 201 in 2009.
Former major champions Louis Oosthuizen (68) and Charl Schwartzel (67) share third place at minus-14.
Joost Luiten carded a 5-under 67 to join Branden Grace (70) in fifth place at 12-under-par 204.
Marc Warren, who is ranked 189th in the world, shared the second-round lead with McIlroy and Donald. He managed an even-par 72 and tumbled into a tie for seventh at minus-11 on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Donald took control early. After McIlroy stumbled to a bogey at the first, Donald poured in birdies at two and three to move to 13-under. As he parred the next three holes, Schwartzel briefly moved into the lead.
Schwartzel had three birdies in the first six holes, then eagled the par-5 seventh to move to 14-under.
Donald tapped in a birdie at the seventh to regain a piece of the lead, then poured in a 30-foot birdie on No. 9 to move back in front.
In the group behind, McIlroy birdied the third and sixth to get to 12-under, and quickly made his move on the back nine. He birdied the 11th and came right back with a birdie on the 12th to get within one of Donald's lead.
Donald, who has had at least a piece of the lead after each of the first three rounds, parred the first four holes on the back nine. He rolled in a birdie effort at the 14th to briefly go up by two.
McIlroy followed with a 30-foot eagle putt on 14 to gain a piece of the lead. The leaders have played the 14th in 7-under par through two rounds.
At the par-5 18th, Donald's third shot stopped five feet from the hole and he rolled that putt in for birdie. McIlroy did the same to forge a tie after round three.
Donald has gone 100 straight holes on this course without a bogey.
"I'm not sure I can believe that. That's pretty good. I guess that's my style -- I don't make too many mistakes," Donald stated. "It's going to be fun -- great for the crowd and everyone watching around the world. Hopefully we can make some birdies."
For the second straight round, McIlroy was not at 100 percent.
"I woke up at 4 a.m. and was not feeling great, but I guess the adrenaline keeps you going when playing," stated McIlroy, who battled sun stroke on Friday.
Warren was joined at minus-11 by Jamie Donaldson (69), Justin Rose (69), Henrik Stenson (69), Thongchai Jaidee (68), George Coetzee (67) and Romain Wattel (67).
NOTES: Both Donald and McIlroy have one win this year on the European Tour ... Donald will go for his eighth tour win on Sunday, while McIlroy will try to win for the fifth time ... Jeev Milkha Singh matched the course record on Saturday with his 8-under 64 and is minus-7 overall.