DUBAI – Li Haotong of China shot an 8-under 64 on Saturday to take the lead at 20-under par after three rounds of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament, one shot ahead of two-time champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland.
McIlroy, winner of this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates in 2009 and 2015, led after two rounds at 15-under and shot a 4-under 68 in the third round to put himself in excellent position heading into Sunday.
But numerous other golfers went even lower on Saturday, with Alexander Levy of France and Haydn Porteous of South Africa both shooting 65 to climb into a tie for third place at 17-under.
England’s Andy Sullivan had the round of the day, firing a 9-under 63 to move into fifth place at 16-under.
Li started the day three shots behind McIlroy and took the lead by torching the course to the tune of eight birdies and no bogeys.
“I’ve never been in this position before, so it’s going to be fun out there tomorrow,” the 22-year-old Li said. “Hopefully I can do my best out there and have some low scores.”
Levy hit the second hole-in-one of the tournament on Saturday on the 171-yard, par-3 fourth hole.
Several golfers have a chance of breaking the record low to par at the Dubai Desert Classic that Thomas Bjorn of Denmark first set at 22-under in 2001 and has since been matched by Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher (2013) and McIlroy (2015).