McIlroy takes a double dip in water for a quad but still leads in Dubai

Rory McIlroy during Round Two of the Dubai Invitational, Dubai Creek Golf club, Dubai. Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey

Dubai: Rory McIlroy was the only player from among the Top-19 to have anything worse than a bogey on his card and he had a quadruple-bogey. Yet when things came to an end on the second day the Dubai Invitational, he had overcome that and the windy conditions to hold of his two-shot lead going into the weekend.

After a stunning bogey free 62, McIlroy was cruising with two more birdies on the third and fourth and he moved to a four-shot lead at one stage. Then came that quadruple bogey on Par-3 eighth hole. He found water off the tee twice and took seven to complete the hole. On the back nine, the World No. 2 repaired some of the damage with three birdies and ended with 1-under 70 and is now 10-under for 36 holes as he goes for a sixth title in Dubai and primes himself ahead of his title defence at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic next week.

German Yannik Paul, whose troubles included three bogeys between the fifth and the ninth, carded 70 and Dane Jeff Winther (66), who finished the day with his only bogey, were both 8-under and two behind McIlroy.

McIlroy has a fine record in the United Arab Emirates, winning three Dubai Desert Classics – including the first of his 16 DP World Tour titles in 2009 – and two DP World Tour Championships.

He said, “I think if I look at the other 17 holes that I played, I played very, very well again,” he said. “Hit some good iron shots.

“Played not too dissimilarly to the way I played yesterday. I maybe holed a couple more putts yesterday but the conditions were getting a little trickier. The wind was up, greens were firm and I had a couple of miscues on the eighth hole.

“The tenth was big. I had a chance to bounce back on nine that I missed but ten was big. The two shots into 13 were big too.

“And to make two relatively easy birdies and then I give myself chances most of the back nine, which was nice, and I was able to convert a couple before that tough finishing stretch there on 17 and 18.

“I felt like I did well just to get my head back into it and play some solid golf on the way in and everyone seemed to find it a little more difficult today than yesterday. So it’s nice to go into the weekend still with the lead.”

McIlroy and Paul began with a flourish. Paul holed a 20-footer on the second and another birdie came with an up and down on the par-five fourth. McIlroy birdied the driveable third despite finding sand off the tee and again birdied fourth.

As Paul then bogeyed the fifth, eighth and ninth to tumble down the leader board, McIlroy, ahead by four at the eighth tee, went into the water twice for a q quadruple bogey.

If Paul made up with two birdies on the back nine, McIlroy did even better with three. That included a 30-footer for birdie on the 16th, which made sure he would end the day under par.

Winther birdied third and fourth like McIlroy, and added four birdies between the 10th and 15th before closing with his only bogey so far with a three-putt on the 18th.

Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood (69) and Jordan Smith (67), South Africans Thriston Lawrence (70) and Zander Lombard (68) and Dane Thorbjørn Olesen (69) were at seven under, a shot clear of another Dane in Rasmus Højgaard.

In the team event, host Abdulla Al Naboodah led the way by two shots after contributing three birdies and a par in a 67 alongside Pablo Larrazábal and will play with McIlroy in Saturday’s final team round.

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