Donald closes in on money title, history in Dubai

By MICHAEL CASEY | December 10, 2011 | 10:26 AM EST

England's Like Donald plays a ball on the 18th hole during the third round of Dubai World Championship golf tournament on, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Top-ranked Luke Donald is on the verge of becoming the first golfer to win the European and American money titles, shooting a 6-under 66 Saturday in the third round of the Dubai World Championship.

Rory McIlroy, who struggled with a 71, needs to win the tournament and Donald needs to finish outside the top nine for any chance of overtaking him for the European money title.

Leader Alvaro Quiros heads into the final round holding a two-stroke lead over Paul Lawrie (66) of Scotland. The big-hitting Spaniard shot a 70 on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates for a 14-under 202 total.

The 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizien (66) is third, followed by Donald. McIlroy is six shots behind the leader.

McIlroy, who had a bogey and a deflating double-bogey on the front nine, conceded his bid to overtake Donald "was over."

"Luke is in a great position and he's played great the past couple of days," said McIlroy, whose tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki was in the gallery. "I expect him to go out and shoot another very solid round tomorrow and wrap things up."

Donald wasn't so sure.

"I would be foolish to think it's over," Donald said of the money title race. "Tomorrow it will be just like any other day in terms of focus. I will be trying to catch whomever is the leader and trying to win the tournament."

But Donald was pleased with his round.

"Picked up the birdies when I had opportunities and really took full advantage of all those opportunities," he said. "Obviously, to score six birdies with no dropped shots was just the round I was looking for."

Donald said the key to his rise from 26th spot after the opening round was his short game. He opened with a birdie on a hole he had bogeyed the first two days, and then had three more birdies on the front nine. He slowed down on the back nine but birdied two of the last four holes.

"In a certain way, there was a lot of grind out there," Donald said. "It was a solid round of golf but certainly wasn't perfect. I hit a few loose shots, but when I got into trouble I was able to really dig myself out of it with some great short game."