Rory McIlroy gets punchy as his challenge fades

Rory McIlroy said he wanted to punch himself in Abu Dhabi

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The Independent Online

Rory McIlroy said he wanted to punch himself after his challenge wilted at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

The Northern Irishman got his third round moving with a birdie on the sixth hole and made another shot on the 12th – but the momentum was immediately halted as he bogeyed the next hole.

The world No 1 signed for a 71, which left sharing fifth place – eight shots behind leader Martin Kaymer.

McIlroy admitted he was left deflated after failing to take advantage of several promising situations with his putter.

He said: “I feel like punching myself. I’m very disappointed, I just didn’t putt well – yesterday or today.

“I hit the ball just as well as I did yesterday and gave myself so many chances but I didn’t convert any. I was very wasteful today. It looks like I’m playing for second place.”

Kaymer is on the brink of a fourth victory in eight years in Abu Dhabi after an impressive third round.

The German, the tournament winner in 2008, 2010 and 2011, carries a six-shot lead into the final 18 holes after a round of 65.

Kaymer started brightly with birdies on the first two holes before trimming another shot on the fifth.

The US Open champion maintained the momentum with birdies on the seventh, eighth, 11th and 13th to move to 20 under par.

Kaymer told Sky Sports: “Hopefully it’s going to be enough – I’ve really enjoyed the course.

“I’ve had a very solid three days, with only two bogeys in the first round.

“I’m a little bit surprised the way I played but the first round showed me I made the right choice taking it a little bit easy over the winter.”

Kaymer’s nearest challenger is Belgian Thomas Pieters, whose third-round 70 contained three birdies and just one bogey, on the 17th hole.

Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, who carded seven birdies and one bogey for a round of 66, is a shot further back with France’s Alexander Levy, who managed a 67, courtesy of an eagle on the 18th.

South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel and France’s Gary Stal are alongside McIlroy.