Dubai - World No 4 Henrik Stenson is on
track to successfully defend his title at the DP World Tour Championship in
Dubai, but he will have to shake off the red-hot Rafael Cabrera-Bello after
Saturday's third round.
The Spanish world number 104 shot a
seven-under par 65 - the low round of the day for a second successive day - and
finished on 14-under par 202 after 54 holes, the same as Stenson, who shot a
bogey-free round of 68.
It was the Swede's 12th consecutive round
in the 60s on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.
The leading duo are now three clear of
Englishman Justin Rose, who leads the chasing pack at 205 following a round of
World No 1 Rory McIlroy once again endured
a difficult day. The 2012 champion, who is already assured of becoming the
European No 1 for the season by winning the Race to Dubai, made rare
back-to-back double bogeys en route to a two-under par 70.
McIlroy will start the final round four
shots behind Stenson and Cabrera-Bello, tied for fourth on 10-under par with
Frenchman Victor Dubuisson (67), England's Tyrell Hatton (68) and Denmark's
Thorbjorn Olesen (69).
It was a bit of a battle for Stenson early
in the day, when he three-putted for par from 20 feet on the par-5 second, and
then needed to make and up-and-down for par on the third before a chip-in for
his first birdie of the day on the fourth.
After another missed birdie chance on the
par-5 seventh hole, where he failed to make a four-footer putt, the 38-year-old
shifted gears and made three birdies coming in for his 68.
Stenson, who is yet to win a tournament
this year despite a solid season, said: "It's a great championship, this
one, and of course it would mean a lot to me to defend, and to get a win this
"It's still been a good one, but still
at the end of the year when we assess it, we will always look at the trophies
and there has not been any yet.
"We'll try and make it happen, but
there are a lot of strong players out there and Rafa seems to be on fire. We'll
see if we can hold him off tomorrow.
"I struck it nicely today. I would say
I was back to hitting it really good and had quite a few chances, but wasn't as
hot on the greens as I was yesterday. Left a couple shots out there but all in
all, I'll take that round. I am still in the race."
Cabrera-Bello, who needed just 21 putts to
go through his round, finished with four birdies in his last five holes.
And the Spaniard said his strong short game
saved what could have been an ugly round.
"It's been a little crazy round,
because I haven't felt I've played perfect at all. I had to work really, really
hard, especially at the beginning.
"I just managed to hang in
there," said Cabrera-Bello, winner of the 2012 Desert Classic.
"I end up shooting three-under on the
front nine and I could have easily shot two or three over, which was very good.
And short game and putting has been unbelievable, probably the best day of my
life for short game."
McIlroy also did not have the best start
when he could not make a birdie in the first four holes, but he appeared to be
motoring along as he shot to the top of the leaderboard with four birdies in
the next six holes.
But he then hit two wayward shots off the
tee on the 13th and 14th and was penalised with back-to-back double bogeys.
"I definitely felt like I played
better than yesterday, even though the score is the same," said McIlroy.
"The 12th and 13th, obviously, ruined
that scorecard a little bit. If I had not had those two holes, I would be right
up there in the lead.
"It makes life a little more difficult
for myself tomorrow, but hopefully I can get off to a fast start and try to put
pressure on the guys ahead of me."