McIlroy keeps up the heat on Henrik Stenson in Dubai
Rory McIlroy is well placed just two off the pace set by defending champion Henrik Stenson at the halfway stage in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Ulster's world number one carded a two under 70 in yesterday's second round.
Stenson, whose win at Jumeirah Golf Estates 12 months ago ensured he became the first man to win the Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup in the same year, added a second round of 66 to his opening 68 to finish 10 under par.
But the world number four has Open and US PGA champion McIlroy just two shots behind alongside Scotland's Richie Ramsay and England's Danny Willett, with Shane Lowry - aided by a hole-in-one on the 13th - and former US Open champion Justin Rose among a five-strong group another stroke back.
Playing his first tournament after a six-week lay-off, McIlroy could only add a scrappy 70 to his flawless opening 66, carding four birdies, two bogeys and a par on the seventh after a mis-hit second shot with a five wood which he described as "a fat, low, duck-hook runner that was not intentional".
McIlroy recovered from the shock of hitting that shot like a high handicapper and a bogey on the 12th with birdies on the 14th and 15th, only to three-putt the 16th and drive into the water on the last.
"I'm in a good position and there is a lot of golf left," McIlroy added. "I've definitely been in worse positions after two rounds and still won.
"It could have been worse but it probably could have been a little better. I definitely didn't have it like I did yesterday. I had to dig in a little bit so hopefully that's the bad one out of the way and I have 36 holes now to make some ground up on Henrik."
Lowry's hole-in-one, from 183 yards with a six iron, was his first on the European Tour and took him just one off the lead at the time, but the world number 52 was unable to pick up any further shots on the last five holes.
"It was a beautiful shot, a perfect number for my six iron," said Lowry, who needs a good finish to move into the world's top 50 and secure his place in next year's Masters.