x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Quiros' desert storm shakes up second round in Dubai

The Spaniard charges four shots clear of the field with record-equalling 64 on the Earth course on day two.

Alvaro Quiros is in line for a Middle East treble.
Alvaro Quiros is in line for a Middle East treble.

Dubai World Championship 2011 coverage

DUBAI // Alvaro Quiros wants to bag a historic Dubai double after his record-equalling round of 64 at the Earth Course yesterday left a weary Rory McIlroy five shots in his wake.

Quiros, a big-hitting Spaniard who won this year's Dubai Desert Classic in February, leads the field at the Dubai World Championship on 12-under par. He is four shots clear of closest challenger Sweden’s Peter Hanson, who followed his 64, on Thursday with a level-par round of 72.

Quiros fancies becoming the first player to win both big Dubai golf tournaments in the same year. If he continues the way he is playing, it would take something special over the next two days to stop him.

“I just have to keep doing the same thing with the putter and I’ll be fighting for top of the leaderboard come Sunday,” Quiros said.

“I really like this place. We have good weather conditions, good golf courses and the food is great. So I can’t complain. I missed out on a play-off at the Dubai World Championship last year by one shot and I’m playing well here again.”

Quiros, 28, has a reputation for being the life and soul of any show, but he would be happy to spoil the party if he can streak away at the top and deny fans their chance to watch McIlroy and Luke Donald fight it out for the Race to Dubai title.

“This is not just about Rory and Luke,” Quiros said. “They are not the only important people. The rest of us want to ruin the party and that’s good for the tournament.”

McIlroy stood on the 17th tee yesterday on nine-under with hope of stretching away from Donald and getting closer to Quiros, but he finished bogey-bogey. He missed the green on the penultimate hole and then found water with his final drive of the day.

That left him with a round of 71 and on seven-under and tied for third with England’s Robert Rock.

The Northern Irishman needs to win to have any chance of becoming Europe’s top money winner. He is three shots ahead of Order of Merit leader Donald who, despite having mixed fortunes over the first two days, is tied for 12th, well within touching distance of the ninth place finish that would secure the money list title.

McIlroy is recovering from a suspected case of dengue fever, which is carried by mosquitoes and affects the white blood cells. The US Open champion knows it would take a supreme effort to win.

“I am seeing a doctor on Saturday night and she might make a decision whether or not I’ll play Thailand next week or if this is the last tournament,” McIlroy said.

“To be honest, I’m ready for this season to be done. I’m looking forward to putting the clubs away and taking a break.”
But McIlroy still has some work to do before he gets that holiday.

“I have an uphill battle on my hands now to try to win this tournament, which obviously I need to do to beat Luke,” he said. “It’s still possible. I am five shots back with two rounds to go, which you can make up in nine holes.”

Second-placed Hanson, who will be in the final pairing today with Quiros, is looking forward to his day’s work.

“Alvaro is a great guy and I love playing with him,” Hanson said. “He always has a smile on his face and it’s going to be fun.”

ncameron@thenational.ae