McIllroy sweeps back into the lead

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Tiger Woods’s second round charge into contention in Dubai has put only a minor dent in Rory McIlroy’s momentum.

Tiger Woods’s second round charge into contention in Dubai put only a minor dent in Rory McIlroy’s momentum on Friday.

The 21-year-old Northern Ireland golfing millionaire stumbled briefly with a bogey on the second, but hit back with with five birdies, the last of them on the long 18th, to post a solid 4-under 68, go to 11-under and edge ahead by one shot of tenacious South African Thomas Aiken and rejuvinated Spaniard Sergio Garcia heading into the weekend at the Emirates Golf Club’s Majlis course.

Aiken, who has vowed not to cut his hair again until he wins on the European Tour, and Garcia both shot 67s with Garcia, a former World No 2, keeping his card clear of bogies for a second day running

Tiger Woods, sparked, perhaps, by the awesome approach shot he hit to make an eagle at the 18th on Thursday, had came storming back into contention earlier in the day when he summoned up some of the magic of his halcyon days to fashion an error-free six-under par 66, take his total to 7-under, move into a tie for 5th and make vital headway in his battle to regain his old dominance.

Woods, who carded three birdies on each nine to outscore his playing partners Martin Kaymer, who shot 71 to sit on four-under, and Lee Westwood who carded a 70 and is five-under, said: “I played myself right back into the tournament. I felt I hit the ball a lot better and the greens were absolutely perfect.

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

Woods has certainly closed the gap, and while he remains four shots behind McIlroy, it’s no longer an impossible number to chase.

McIlroy, in the meantime, believes he is playing with a lot more maturity than he has in the past.

He said: “I felt a little more at ease with my swing yesterday, but I stayed patient today and picked up the birdies when I could.

“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.”

Westwood, who missed the cut last week, is still searching for his sparkling best.

“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.”

He wasn’t quite there, nor, for that matter, was Kaymer – but there is still a lot of golf to be played here in the final event of the middle east swing.

FOOTNOTE:

Sky TV’s Ewen Murray, was one commentator who wasn’t entirely happy with Woods’ performance.

First he criticised the former World No 1 for spitting – “it’s one of the ugliest things you will ever see on a golf course,” he said – and then he saw the American disappoint a bunch of children by not signing autographs for them at the end of his practice session.

“If you are getting paid three million dollars, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to spend 15 to 20 minutes with some of the youngsters,” Murray said.

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