Rory steals the show as Lee and Luke struggle

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lee Westwood is seven shots off the pace as the European Tour title race looks set to go right to the wire after Rory McIlroy produced a fabulous nine-hole stretch yesterday, just as main rival Luke Donald was losing his way.

Westwood, from Worksop, shot a 73 but all eyes were on McIlroy who came home in just 30 for a six-under-66. McIlroy, who has to win the Dubai World Championship to have a chance of the circuit’s number one spot, climbed into third place only two behind Swede Peter Hanson.

Even if the 22-year-old - still suffering from a virus and due to see a doctor again tomorrow after receiving blood test results - does win for the second week running, the Order of Merit crown will only be his if Donald finishes outside the top nine.

But England’s world number one, paired with McIlroy, fell back to joint 26th when three successive bogeys from the 14th left him with a level-par 72. The first two dropped shots came when he drove into bushes and he had to take penalty drops, the third when he could not recover from finding a fairway bunker off the next tee.

“I felt very much in control and then I lost it,” Donald said as a race he seemed a near-certainty to win a month ago hotted up even more. He has only to think back two months, however, to realise there is still a long way to go.

Donald became the first European to capture the PGA Tour money list title in America when he played the last nine holes of the final event in 30 to overtake Webb Simpson.