Pars are overrated.
Let me rephrase: If you’re Rory McIlroy, pars are overrated.
The No. 1 player in the world finished with a second-round 68 on Friday to close with a birdie-birdie-eagle, and it was more of the same to get things started on Saturday.
An eagle on the par-5 second hole was sandwiched between two bogeys to get the four-time major champion off to an interesting start which, despite the eagle, didn’t pull the Northern Irishman any closer to the lead.
McIlroy finally evened the score at the fourth, his first since the par-5 14thu Friday afternoon.
From there, it seemed easy.
Seven birdies over his final 14 holes on Saturday were met with seven birdies, resulting in a 7-under 65 and leaving McIlroy just three shots off Jon Rahm’s lead.
“I started off a little slow, but then I really got going in the middle of the round,” McIlroy said. “Yes, it was much better. I said in the interview (yesterday), I think those last three holes yesterday definitely started my week. You know, to follow it up with a great round today, great to put myself in a position to not only win the DP World Tour ranking but the tournament.”
The prolific winner has a chance to become just the second player to win the PGA Tour’s FedExCup and the DP World Tour event in Dubai in the same season. Henrik Stenson achieved the feat in 2013.
McIlroy has won each of those titles three times, but never in the same season, setting up a potentially historic Sunday.
“It’s a big day,” McIlroy said when asked about Sunday’s final round. “We’ve just got to go out there and try to get another good score. There are some things that are out of my control, but if I can play a good round of golf, that makes it a little bit easier.”
Full field standings from the DP World Tour Championship
The season standings are only out of control if he doesn’t play well on Sunday, as there are only two players not named Rory McIlroy who have a realistic chance of winning the season’s event tomorrow: Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood.
Fitzpatrick (currently 2n.d at 14 under) would have to finish inside the top two and McIlroy finish worse than seventh, while Fleetwood (currently T-6 at 10 under) would have to win and McIlroy finish worse than third.
Such a Sunday would leave McIlroy in danger of missing out on the top spot, but anything resembling his Saturday 65 would be more than enough for the prolific winner to write another page in golf’s history books.