Lorenzo-Vera stays tied for lead despite more problems on 18th

Dubai (AFP) –


Mike Lorenzo-Vera, searching for his first win on the European Tour, again made a bogey on the 18th and fell into a tie for the lead with Jon Rahm after the third round of the DP World Tour Championship on Saturday.

The 34-year-old Frenchman, who started the day with a three-shot lead, played impeccable golf for 17 holes before smashing his tee shot into the water on the par-5 closing hole of the Earth course. The ensuing bogey left him a three-under par 69 and after being sole leader in the tournament for 53 holes, he was caught at 15-under par 201 by world No. 5 Rahm (66).

Also lurking ominously two shots back is two-time champion Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman, who struggled on Friday for a 74, bounced back with a bogey-free 65.

A win on Sunday would be the first for Lorenzo-Vera in 278 starts, while it would be the fourth Rolex Series win for Rahm. The Spaniard would also win the Race to Dubai, making him the first from his country to become the European No. 1 after the legendary Seve Ballesteros.

England's Tommy Fleetwood (70), who is second in the Race to Dubai, birdied the last hole and is four shots adrift of the leaders going into the final round. Order of Merit leader Bernd Wiesberger slipped after a disappointing one-over par 73 and is tied for the 24th at 214.

Lorenzo-Vera did not hide his disappointment about the bogey on the 18th after playing solid golf and making four birdies before that.

"I think I played better today than yesterday. Some better shots all day long, and well, I think we messed up" on the 18th the world No. 96 said using an expletive to describe his choice of club on the hole.

"That was not driver play there. It was a bit too aggressive, but, well, that's the game and I tried my best."

Asked if he would go into the final round with a nothing-to-lose attitude, Lorenzo-Vera quipped: "Well... I still have around $3 million (the winner's cheque) to lose! The mind-set is going to be the same. I'm going to try to be the most relaxed as I can, even if I won't be. It is going to be really a tough round."

The 25-year-old Rahm made just one bogey (on the eighth hole) in his 66, a round that included a magical chip-in for birdie from a difficult position on the par-3 13th.

The thought of joining Ballesteros as the only Spanish European No1 excited Rahm.

“Gives me goosebumps to think about that. As a Spaniard, any time you join, or you have the chance to put your name on a list where there's only one name and that name is Seve, said Rahm.

McIlroy's round was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 seventh hole, where he hit a 5-wood to less than five feet. After the round, the world No2 said he learned his lessons from Friday's round.

"That's what life is all about. It's learning from what you do and being of a present mind so that you can learn as you go," said the 30-year-old.

Scotland's Robert MacIntyre boosted his chances of winning the Rookie of the Year title with a four-under par 68 round that took him to tied 20th. His closest challenger, American Kurt Kitayama spiralled down the leaderboard to 49th place.