Dubai: Rory McIlroy’s lead in the Dubai Desert Classic vanished in the space of three holes in Saturday’s third round.
The 21-year-old Ulsterman, ranked seventh in the world, was out of sorts as he wracked up a hat-trick of bogeys to start his day.
That dropped him back to eight-under par and two strokes off the lead which went to back-on-form Sergio Garcia.
The Spaniard remained at 10 under with a birdie cancelling a bogey in his first four holes.
South Africa’s Thomas Aiken, level with Garcia in second overnight, bogeyed the first and was at nine under with England’s Steve Webster and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet of France tied at eight under with McIlroy.
Tiger Woods, looking to end a 15-month winless streak, bogeyed the first two holes with poor work around the greens, but he bounced back with a birdie at the third to stand on six under.
World number one Lee Westwood struggled to make any impact and was at four under approaching the turn.
Number two Martin Kaymer looked out of it at three over on the day and one under overall through 11 holes.
Among the early starters on Saturday, Raphael Jacquelin of France stood out with an eagle at the third and birdie at the fourth followed by a hole-in-one at the seventh to get to seven under for the tournament around the turn.
He struggled on the way in though with a bogey at the 11th and a double bogey two holes later.