• Tour Championship

Stenson and Cabrera-Bello take advantage of McIlroy blip

ESPN staff
November 22, 2014
Henrik Stenson is in pole position to win the season-ending Tour Championship for a second straight year © Getty Images

Defending champion Henrik Stenson and Rafael Cabrera-Bello will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the Tour Championship after both players moved to 14-under-par at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.

Stenson carded a bogey-free 68 while Cabrera-Bello ended with four birdies in five holes to record a round-of-the-day 65.

The pair lead Justin Rose, whose 68 moves him up to third at 11-under, while Rory McIlroy is in a cluster of four players on 10-under.

McIlroy rolled home three straight birdies from the fifth and added another at 10 to briefly reach 12-under-par, but back-to-back double-bogeys at the par-four 12th and par-three 13th saw him fall away.

Rory McIlroy will be playing catch-up when the Tour Championship resumes on Sunday © Getty Images

The world No.1 recovered with further gains at 12 and 13 to join Victor Dubuisson (67), Tyrrell Hatton (68) and Thorbjorn Olesen (69) in a share for fourth place.

McIlroy's mini meltdown began when he drove into a fairway bunker at and compounded the error by three putting, before duffing two chips from right of the green on the 13th.

"That ruined the scorecard a bit," said the 25-year-old, who is already the Race to Dubai champion.

"It makes life a little more difficult for me tomorrow. I need to be aggressive, I need to go at pins, hit it close and make some putts.

"I felt a little better out there today than yesterday so knew if I stayed patient the birdies would come. I got on a nice run with three birdies in a row from the fifth and another one at ten, but unfortunately the back nine was not quite as good as the front.

"It was annoying to follow one double-bogey with another. I was a little frustrated but it was nice to get a couple back and at least keep myself in touch."

Stenson, who is yet to defend a title in his career, admitted the prospect of winning the £830,000 first prize and the bonus £510,000 for finishing second to McIlroy in the season-long standings was providing extra motivation.

"I felt a little stronger today but I wasn't exactly jumping out of bed this morning," Stenson said. "But what do you expect at 38 years old? I'm a little low on energy but when the mind wants something you can pull through.

"It would be great to win. It's a great championship and it would mean a lot to defend a title and get the win."

Stenson, whose last victory was this tournament last year, added: "It's been a good year but when you assess it you always look at the trophies and there hasn't been one yet.

"There is still a lot of golf to play and Rafa, he's had a 64 and a 65, so he seems to be on fire."

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