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Donald & McIlroy set up showdown in Dubai

ESPN staff
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Rory McIlroy bounced back after a slow start © Getty Images
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The two best players in the world will go head-to-head in the final round of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

The Race to Dubai may already be decided, but Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy will battle it out for bragging rights after both men separated themselves from the rest of the chasing pack during Saturday's third round.

The duo started the day on level terms and finished there as well - with both players rolling in mid-range birdie putts at the 18th to shoot matching rounds of 66 and sit out in front at 17-under, leaving the Sunday showdown perfectly poised.

"It's going to be fun, and great for those watching," world No. 2 Donald said. "It should be a great end to the European Tour season. Hopefully we can make some birdies and put on a show."

McIlroy, who has already clinched the Race to Dubai, added: "To be tied for the lead with him is important, it should be a good show tomorrow.

"He's a phenomenal player, his iron play is probably the best in the world. I want to win badly - I want to finish off the season well."

Donald, playing ahead of the final group, had six birdies and 12 pars in another round of unfaltering consistency - meaning he has now gone 100 holes since he last made a bogey on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

"100 holes is pretty good - I guess that's my style of play," the Englishman noted. "I don't make many mistakes, and when I do I've got a good short game that can bail me out.

"I didn't get into too much trouble. I did what I needed to do - picked off the par-fives and made a couple of birdies here and there. I'm not making mistakes - it's a nice feeling."

McIlroy, in contrast, made a slow start after feeling unwell overnight - but picked up three birdies and an eagle on the back nine to erase the three-shot gap Donald had temporarily opened up.

"I had a bad fever last night, I was up since about four o'clock," McIlroy revealed. "I wasn't feeling great but I guess the adrenaline gets you through."

While the pair cannot discount the chasing pack entirely, they nevertheless hold a three-shot advantage over their nearest challengers - the South African duo of Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen.

Almost half the field started the day within four shots of the frontrunners but by the end the pace had proven too hot to handle for most, with Joost Luiten and Branden Grace - both 12-under - perhaps the only other players who can still realistically entertain hopes of claiming the win come Sunday evening.

Elsewhere, Marc Warren held a share of the overnight lead with McIlroy and Donald but slipped back to 11-under with a round of 72 - level with a group of players that includes Justin Rose.

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