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Page last updated at 13:49 GMT, Friday, 11 February 2011

Rory McIlroy leads in Dubai as Tiger Woods closes in

Dubai Desert Classic second round leaderboard:
-11 R McIlroy (NI) -10 T Aiken (SA), S Garcia (Sp) -8 S Webster (Eng) -7 T Woods (US), A Hansen (Den), M Hoey (NI), JB Gonnet (Fr), B Rumford (Aus)
Selected others:-5 L Westwood (Eng) -4 M Kaymer (Ger) -2 JM Olazabal (Sp), MA Jimenez (Sp) +5 C Montgomerie (Sco)

Rory McIlroy
McIlroy made all five of his birdies in the final 11 holes

Rory McIlroy birdied the final hole to card a round of 68 and take a one-shot lead at 11 under at the halfway stage of the Dubai Desert Classic.

Sergio Garcia again did not drop a shot in a second successive 67 and shares second, while Tiger Woods moved up to seven under after a 66 with no bogeys.

World number one Lee Westwood, playing in the same group as Woods, dropped two shots in a 70 and is five under.

Martin Kaymer, the world number two, is one further back after a round of 71.

McIlroy edged clear of the field after laying up short of the water at the dangerous closing par five and playing a wedge from 103 yards to seven feet to set up his third birdie on the back nine.

The former champion, whose victory in 2009 remains his only European Tour success to date, carded only one bogey on Friday afternoon, at the second hole, but admitted he did not play as well as in his impressive 65 in the early morning conditions on Thursday.

"I felt a little more at ease with my swing in the first round but I stayed patient and picked up the birdies when I could," the 21-year-old said.

"Maybe this time last year I would not have been able to grind out a 68 after the start I had. Rounds like this prove I am doing the right thing."

Meanwhile Woods, an early starter on day two, began full of confidence following his closing eagle on Thursday that took him to one under.

He started superbly with birdies at the 12th, 13th and 18th to reach the turn in a three-under 34.

The 35-year-old American added yet another birdie on the second despite driving into the rough and continued his charge with a 25-footer on the short fourth.

And a wondrous approach to two feet at the 485-yard par-four sixth brought the current world number three his sixth birdie of the day.

Tiger Woods
Woods looked to be regaining his best form with some more accurate play

It was a fine resurgence from Woods, who after five holes of his first round was two over and tied for 96th.

"I played myself right back into the tournament. I felt I hit the ball a lot better and the greens were absolutely perfect," he said.

"It was steady. I didn't make as many mistakes as yesterday and I felt it was important to post a number."

Westwood, who missed the cut in Qatar last week, collected four birdies, picking up a shot at the 18th where he made six on Thursday, but was frustrated with his position in a large group sharing 11th place.

"I'm a bit disappointed with the way I've hit it the first two days," he commented. "You have chances out there - you've just got to be on your game."

South African Thomas Aiken, who also started on the 10th, birdied his first hole of the round and was to add a further five with his only blemish a bogey on the par four 16th.

Garcia, the former world number two who has dropped to 79th in the rankings after failing to win since November 2008, looked far more comfortable on the greens with his new claw grip, holing several tricky putts in assured fashion.

At the final hole he flew his second shot over the green and after taking a drop away from the hospitality units over-hit his chip which raced back across the putting surface and dangerously close to the water before finishing in the fringe grass.

A neat chip and putt salvaged par, however, leaving him as the only man not to drop a shot this week, and in excellent shape for the final two rounds.

Another Northern Irishman, Michael Hoey, whose solitary win on the European Tour thus far came at the 2009 Portugal Open, made the best finish of the day.

The 31-year-old recorded six birdies in the final eight holes to reach seven under.

Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez missed a short birdie chance on the final green but comfortably progressed through to the final two days after a round of 70 took him to two under.

Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal was also two under the card after three birdies in six holes in a round of 69, but playing partner Colin Montgomerie took a double bogey at the ninth, his closing hole, and finished at five over, well outside the cut line.

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see also
Star trio trail McIlroy in Dubai
10 Feb 11 |  Golf
Desert showdown photos
11 Feb 11 |  Golf
Poor Westwood misses cut in Doha
04 Feb 11 |  Golf
Win puts Kaymer second in world
23 Jan 11 |  Golf
Woods seeks Torrey Pines revival
26 Jan 11 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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