Dubai Desert Classic: Rory McIlroy full of praise for Stephen Gallacher after third round
Last Updated: 01/02/14 2:15pm
Rory McIlroy: Finds himself two shots off the lead heading into the final round
Rory McIlroy admitted he "left a few out there" in his third round after being overtaken at the top of the Dubai Desert Classic leaderboard.
Bidding to win the event for the second time in his career, having claimed his maiden European Tour title at the Emirates Golf Club five years ago, the Northern Irishman managed a 69 on Saturday.
"I felt like I left a few out there but it was a tricky day and shooting anything under 70 wasn't a bad score."
However that wasn't enough for the halfway leader to retain his place at the summit, Stephen Gallacher surging two shots clear thanks to a stunning 63.
McIlroy - who has been battling a bout of food poisoning over the past two days - still heads into the final day firmly in contention and was happy enough with his efforts.
"It was okay," he said. "I bogeyed the first again but birdied two and eagled three which was great.
"I didn't drive the ball particularly well, I'm probably going to work on a few things on the range and I felt like I hit a lot of good putts that just didn't go in.
"I felt like I left a few out there but it was a tricky day and shooting anything under 70 wasn't a bad score. Obviously Stephen had a phenomenal round, 63 today is a really impressive effort."
Reigning champion Gallacher, who could become the first player to successfully defend the title, had looked well out of contention when he played his first eight holes in one-over-par to lie seven shots off the lead.
However the Scot then played his next 10 in a blistering 10 under, including taking just 28 shots on the back nine.
"I didn't know that," McIlroy replied when told about Gallacher's astonishing exploits from the ninth onwards. "That's a great stretch of holes and hopefully he doesn't continue it tomorrow!
"I played with him the first two days and he played very well.
"Obviously he was on fire today, I just need to go out there and try to hit a few more fairways, focus on a few things in my game, not really focus on what he's doing and make a few putts and see where it puts me.
"It's the second week in a row for me going into the last day with a chance to win, it's a great position to be in."