Northern Irishman is on course for his third title at Emirates Golf Club.
Rory McIlroy completes delayed second round in style to lead Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Two-time champion Rory McIlroy holds the halfway lead at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic after returning early Saturday to complete his second round.
Not able to conclude his Friday’s play because of a three-hour fog delay, the Northern Irishman made up for lost time once back at Emirates Golf Club, birding five of his seven holes from his start on the 12th.
Eventually, McIlroy signed for a 8-under-par 64 to take him to 15-under, two clear of second-placed Jamie Donaldson. China’s Haotong Li is one further back on 12-under. Another 11 players, including 2016 British Open champion Henrik Stenson are within five strokes of the summit.
Winner of the event in 2009 and 2015, McIlroy birdied his first two holes on Saturday before reeling off three consecutive birdies to finish.
Asked if he could have wished for a better conclusion, he said: “No, that was pretty nice. I knew with the conditions this morning there were chances out there, obviously with the two par 5s and 17. But obviously to take care of those and birdie a couple others, yeah, to finish 5-under for my last seven was a nice way to finish this morning. It's nice to go into the weekend in the lead.”
McIlroy, 28, is appearing at only his second tournament since taking almost four months off last season to recover fully from a rib injury that impacted significantly his 2017. Last week, the four-time major champion finished tied-third in Abu Dhabi.
The extra workload on Saturday - McIlroy begins his third round alongside Donaldson in the afternoon - will provide a welcome test of how his body is holding up.
“Yeah, feels good right now,” he said. “Probably got a bit of a break between now and going back out there. So I'll probably get a little bit of physio treatment, make sure everything's OK and hit some balls and practice. Look forward to getting out there again this afternoon.”
With the cut line falling at 5-under, it set a new tournament record – beating the previous mark by two, from 2001, 2007 and 2013. Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal did not make it through to the third round, missing the cut by four, and later tweeted: