McIlroy joins leaders in Dubai

STARS ARE OUT::Sergio Garcia matched the course record on his return after laser eye surgery, while Rory McIlroy shone despite missing a number of putts

AP, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

Sun, Nov 25, 2012 - Page 18

Rory McIlroy moved to the top of the leaderboard with a five-under 67 on Friday in the second round of the DP World Tour Championship.

The top-ranked golfer, who missed several makeable putts on the front nine and then saw an eagle putt roll past the hole on 14, is even with Luke Donald (68) and Marc Warren (67) at 11-under 133. McIlroy opened with two birdies on the first three holes and then had two in row down the stretch.

“I continued driving the ball well today and gave myself plenty of opportunities,” said McIlroy, who has already won the European and PGA tour money titles.

“Missed a couple of short ones on the front nine for birdies, but apart from that it was a very solid round of golf and obviously in good position going into the weekend,” he added.

Sergio Garcia, playing for the first time since having laser eye surgery, matched the course record with an eight-under 64.

Garcia started with four birdies on his first five holes and then had a string of birdies at the turn before holing a long putt for eagle on 14. However, then he shot into the water on 16 for a triple-bogey before recovering to finish with a birdie and eagle.

“Coming back from a long break so trying to get some good vibrations going and I managed to finish better than that,” said Garcia, who is in a tie for 18th.

Donald joined McIlroy and Warren at 11-under with a short birdie putt on the 18th. Warren had a chance take the outright lead, but his 12-foot putt on the 18th came up short.

The 189th-ranked Warren, who has not won a tournament since 2007, matched the second-ranked Donald’s opening birdie and carded five more, including a 12-footer on the 16th to move him into a tie with McIlroy.

It was also a good day for the South Africans as 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (67) is only one stroke behind. He was joined at 134 by four-time tour winner Branden Grace (67).

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (67) and Richie Ramsay (68) were two shots off the pace, followed by another 10 players three strokes behind.

Several big names faltered on Day Two, including the fourth-ranked Lee Westwood (74).

Two shots off the lead after the first round, Westwood fell apart on the back nine when he bogeyed the 12th and 16th, and then double-bogeyed the par-three 17th to fall eight shots off the lead.

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, also two shots back after the first round, is five behind after a one-under 71.