Victor Perez still in with chance of Hero Dubai Desert Classic title

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner sits four shots behind leader Rory McIlroy at Emirates Golf Club on Sunday

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Given his finish at Yas Links last weekend, Victor Perez might have been forgiven for putting his feet up and spending this week counting all of the €1.4 million ($1.52m) or so that was newly arrived in his bank account.

Or maybe spend it polishing the shiny new Falcon Trophy that was now in his possession. Or just have a party.

Instead, the 2023 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner has been straight back to work, and in fine style, too.

Rather than dwell on his success last week, the Frenchman has opted to follow the path of making hay while the sun shines. A good few more euros and Ryder Cup ranking points are heading his way as a result.

And there is still the outside chance of another Rolex Series title, eight days after the last one.

Perez kept himself in sight of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic leader, Rory McIlroy, after shooting a 6-under-par 66 in Sunday’s delayed third round. It took him to 11-under for the tournament, four shots behind the world No 1.

Perez said the Northern Irishman provides an example for players like himself who are aspiring to reach the top echelons of the sport.

“I think the good side of [winning a Rolex Series event] it is that you know you're playing well, so obviously that gives you a lot of confidence,” Perez said.

Perez wins in Abu Dhabi

“The downside is people might expect you to play well. You have to try to make the best of both worlds.

“The best players in the world deal with that every week, so eventually if you want to progress and lead to the top 20, or 10, or No 1 in the world, you have to [manage that].

“Rory is expected to a play great and win almost every week that he tees it up. It's something that you have to learn how to manage.”

Perez did not drop a shot in his third round, but acknowledged it was scratchier than the scorecard suggested, and he chipped in for birdie on the par-5 third hole.

He also pointed out that it would require another low score if he is to stand a chance of reeling in two-time Classic champion McIlroy over the closing 18 on Monday, but he is glad to be in the conversation again.

“It would be incredible to go back-to-back, obviously two Rolex Series events to start the year would be incredible,” Perez said.

“I think it would be probably the best start in European Tour history, or something like that. It would be great.

“It's going to be a tough battle with some great players and it's going to take a low one to get it done tomorrow.”

Updated: January 29, 2023, 2:05 PM