Rahm surges ahead after a 65

RIDGELAND, SOUTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 22: Jon Rahm of Spain reacts to a missed birdie putt on the 18th green during the third round of the CJ Cup at Congaree Golf Club on October 22, 2022 in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Kevin C. Cox / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

DUBAI (AFP) — Former world No. 1 Jon Rahm produced a battling, bogey-free round of seven-under-par 65 to hit the front of the $10 million DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on Saturday.

The 2021 US Open victor holds a one-stroke lead over Matthew Fitzpatrick, the 2022 US Open champion, with Rory McIlroy also breathing down his neck a further two strokes back.

All three are also looking to become the first three-time champion of the tournament.

Fitzpatrick and McIlroy, meanwhile, are two of the seven players on the field vying to win the Race to Dubai.

With two others, Adrian Meronk and Tommy Fleetwood, both two strokes behind McIlroy at 10-under, there is every prospect of a thrilling final round on Sunday.

McIlroy needs to finish ahead of Ryan Fox and Fitzpatrick to become only the second player after Sweden’s Henrik Stenson in 2013 to win the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai in the same season.

The Northern Irishman, who had closed his round on Friday with a birdie-birdie-eagle finish, overcame a stuttering start when he sandwiched an eagle on the second with bogeys on the first and third.

But he was brilliant otherwise in a round of 65 to finish in tied fourth place at 12-under par.

“It’s been a little better. I thought that last three holes yesterday could really kick-start a little bit of momentum for me, and I’ve brought that into today,” said the 33-year-old.

“I know how to shoot low scores here and I know how to make birdies. It was just a matter of getting it out of myself. Over the last 21 holes, it’s been a lot better.”

“I just need to continue to put the ball in play off the tee and in the fairway and give myself plenty of chances from there.”

Rahm, who is out of the running for the Race to Dubai title, relishes the challenge of the Earth course at the Jumeirah Golf Estates — his worst score in 14 rounds at the course is a 70.

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