x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

McIlroy trails for the first time

A double bogey denies the youngster a lead position at the Dubai Desert classic but is confident of making up for it tomorrow with "two birdies on the first two holes".

McIlroy takes the ill-fated seven-iron shot from the clinging rough on the ninth hole that failed to surpass the green.
McIlroy takes the ill-fated seven-iron shot from the clinging rough on the ninth hole that failed to surpass the green.

DUBAI // It was a strange experience for Rory McIlroy last night - going to bed without being in the lead in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The young Northern Irishman was never headed after posting an opening 64 on the way to his sparkling victory here last year and he was one of six names setting the first round pace this time round. It appeared as though he was going to be out on his own again yesterday lunchtime as stood on the tee of his closing hole, the ninth, the only player in the tournament at that stage to have taken his aggregate total to eight under par. A frustrating 15 minutes later he watched his putt to salvage a bogey lip out and found himself trailing rather than leading his surprised playing partner Miguel Angel Jimenez. McIlroy lamented a seven iron out of clinging rough which he did not catch sweetly enough for it to clear the lake protecting the green and his ensuing chip under penalty finished five feet away. Undeterred by that late double-bogey blow, which spoiled what had been shaping up to be another creditable 68, McIlroy remains upbeat about his prospects of a Majlis double. "It's always disappointing when you make your only mistake on the last hole but if I go out tomorrow and make two birdies on the first two holes then it's all forgotten," he said. "Apart from that one error I've got to consider this another good day's works because I made a few birdies [four] in conditions that are still pretty tricky and I could easily have made a couple more. I felt I got the pace of the greens better today than yesterday which is encouraging." McIlroy was speaking with more half the field still to complete their second rounds and he was expecting more than just four players to be in front of him going into today's third round. He was impressed with his first-hand view of Jimenez's performance as the 46-year-old Spaniard finished with five-under-par for the day. "He's great from tee to green and he's a pretty tough character so when he gets up there he is going to be hard to beat."