Paul Casey produced a stunning birdie-eagle finish in a bogey free round of 64 to take a one shot lead into the final day of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The Englishman will go in search of his 15th European Tour title after matching the lowest round of the week to get to 15 under par and lead by one from Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre. The 24 year old is aiming to win in consecutive seasons after claiming his maiden victory at the 2020 Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Open, and a strong finish at Emirates Golf Club could propel him into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.
Three-time European Tour winner Brandon Stone of South Africa is a shot further back on 13 under par, with Major winner and 2017 Omega Dubai Desert Classic champion Sergio Garcia at ten under par alongside Englishman Laurie Canter.
Finland’s Kalle Samooja is then at nine under par, with Major winner and Olympic Gold Medallist Justin Rose, South African Justin Harding and Thomas Detry of Belgium rounding out the top ten on Pink Saturday, as players, caddies, officials, staff and volunteers donned pink to raise awareness for breast cancer research in association with the Al Jalila Foundation.
Paul Casey: “It was perfect club. It always helps when you have a nice number in there. It’s a glorious finish. I said to Johnny on the fairway there, that was a cool-looking shot when Monty hit a driver off the deck without the skyline you get now, and it might be cooler now with the skyline. It’s one of the iconic shots in golf, isn’t it. To have a perfect three iron in there and finish off with an eagle is pretty cool.
“I mean, you can never say flawless, can you, because there’s always errors but it was very controlled. Really enjoyable round of golf, challenging yet at the same time with a little bit of wind here and there. Like I said to you, I’ve said to you many times it seems so far this week, I’m enjoying my golf, and that was an example of it today.
“I’ve been very fortunate. The strong asset I have in this game is the way I drive it, the length. The game has gone more and more towards length, and I’m fortunate that I’m still able to lean on that strength and compete out here.
“15 (European Tour wins) would be very cool, as well. I’ve won just down the road. I’ve never won in Dubai. Yes, you’re right, it’s iconic. Behind you, I can see the very impressive list of winners, those photos of them behind the 18th green. It’s cool. Iconic trophy. Iconic event. Dubai has given so much to golf, especially the European Tour, so that would be very, very cool.”
Robert MacIntyre: “I played great golf. Again, I controlled my golf ball I think as good as I have all week. The wind was up more today. I was patient, and committed to every shot. That’s something I struggled with last year. But this year, it’s been drilled into me by many people: Accept what comes. Just control what you can control. And it’s working well.
“It’s as high as it’s ever been. I’m driving it great. Three wood, five wood, new clubs in the bag, they have been absolutely brilliant. And I’m striking it. I really am striking my irons as well as I struck it late last year. Looking forward to tomorrow and see what it brings.
“Same as always, go for it. I’m not going to hang about. I’m going to put it all on the line whether it’s good or bad. But tomorrow, hopefully it’s going to be good and I’ve just got to enjoy it again. It’s another experience that I want to get, you know what I mean. It’s something that not many people get the chance at my age to do, and I’ll give it everything I’ve got. It would be unbelievable. Still a long way to go, 18 holes. I’m just focused on the tee shot off the first tomorrow.
Brandon Stone: “Just solid golf all the way around to be fair. Drove the ball really nicely all day. Managed to hole some nice putts on the front nine, which always gets the adrenaline and momentum going. Felt very calm and collected all day. Hit the ball fantastically well. Felt like I was putting for birdie on almost every hole, so whenever that’s the case, you’re always going to figure like there’s a low number in you.
“The list of illustrious winners that has won here before is obviously incredible, but at the same time the golf course has its own history and the event itself has that prestige around it. You always want to be playing against the best players, but you want to be playing on the best courses and winning the best tournaments, and I’ve given myself the opportunity to do that tomorrow.”