Dubai - Rory McIlroy sank seven birdies to
be 13 under par after the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic on
Friday, two shots ahead of Martin Kaymer, who hit his first hole-in-one.
Surprise overnight leader Rafael Cabrera-Bello had yet to tee off.
McIlroy may, however, rue a succession of missed long birdie chances as his putting often failed to match his long game.
"I definitely think it could have been better than 65, I missed a putt
on the 18th for an eagle, I missed a putt on the first for a birdie that
was pretty short," McIlroy, 22, told reporters. "I hit a couple of
really good putts on the back nine this morning which could have dropped
The slight Ulsterman started the day on six under, but
this time he played the back nine first and was paired with England's
Robert Rock, surprise winner of January's Abu Dhabi championship, and
Dubai defending champion Alvaro Quiros.
The trio teed off from
the 10th hole early, a wisp of cloud shrouding the desert sun as Dubai
slept on Friday, the Muslim holy day.
The back nine of the
Majlis course is kinder than the front nine, with three par-fives and a
couple of short par-fours, so the players were under pressure to score
low early, especially after Carrera-Bello had ended the first round on
McIlroy sank a birdie on the opening hole after
playing a chip shot from the rough to within a few feet of the pin, but
at the next hole he came up short with an 18-foot putt that would have
earned a second successive birdie.
On the 12th, the trio each
had chances to pick up a shot. Quiros was first to try, but the ball
curled away from the pin, while McIlroy was inches short with his and
Rock also missed.
Rock faded his tee shot into the rough on the next hole, but recovered with a lofted pitch over a cluster of palm trees.
Quiros fared worse. He took a penalty shot after plunging his second shot into the water, then putted for a bogey.
McIlroy then squandered an eagle opportunity, dragging a 25-foot eagle
chance to the right of the hole, but he held his nerve for a birdie to
move on to eight under.
At the 14th hole, the trio also missed
birdie chances as their putting let down some precision approach play.
McIlroy consulted caddie J.M. Fitzgerald, whom he credited for his late
surge in Thursday's first round, but still his attempt rolled inches
At two under from seven holes, McIlroy seemed frustrated, but on the 17th he sank a 40-foot chip fairway for a birdie.
The US Open champion missed a 10-foot eagle putt on the 18th, but
holed for a birdie to be on 10 under at the turn, while on the front
nine, he bagged three more to end the round on seven under.
Kaymer scored six under in the opening round and also started Friday
from the 10th tee. The German reached nine under with three holes to
play before a hole-in-one on the seventh added some gloss to his round.