Rory McIlroy loses ground as poor second round sees him six adrift in Dubai
There were a massive TEN shots between Rory McIlroy's first and second rounds at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
On Thursday, in his first round, the World No.2 fired a sensational eight-under-par 64 to leave him one shot behind overnight leader Mike Lorenzo-Vera and looking strong.
On Friday, in the second round, he limped around to the tune of two bogeys, a double bogey and just two birdies on his way to a two-over-par 74.
The net result is that McIlroy lies in a tie for fourth at six-under, however he is already a massive six shots behind Lorenzo-Vera, who backed up Thursday's 63 with a three-under 69 in his second round.
Playing alongside McIlroy, the Frenchman defied most people's expectations by bursting out of the gate with two birdies and riding the momentum, carding four more numbers in the red and dropping just three strokes.
However, Lorenzo-Vera's finish will undoubtedly frustrate him, the World No.96 showing signs of nerves and racking up bogeys at the 15th and on the 18th, the latter thanks to a three-putt.
Alongside him, McIlroy floundered on a day where the majority of the field were level par or better, playing steadily to start his round by carding five pars before running into trouble at the par-three sixth.
The Ulsterman, chasing his fifth win of the year, hit his tee shot into the water, leading to a double bogey, and although he bounced back with a birdie at the par-five seventh, the round would not improve.
Bogeys followed at the 10th and 13th, with another par-five birdie coming at the 14th to at least stem the tide, but McIlroy has a lot of ground to make up at the weekend.
In the quest for the Race to Dubai, there has been a switch at the top of the standings as Tommy Fleetwood's four-under-par 68 on Friday saw him replace Bernd Wiesberger at the summit.
The Englishman signed for seven birdies and three bogeys to move to nine-under-par for the tournament and into second, providing the nearest challenge to leader Lorenzo-Vera.
It has also seen him move up to the top of the European Tour's order of merit list due to Wiesberger being down in a tie for 13th in Dubai at three-under par.
Spain's Jon Rahm maintained his challenge for the Race to Dubai title as well with a three-under-par 71 in the second round that has him in a tie for second with Fleetwood.
South Africa's Christiaan Bezuidenhout had the round of the day, shooting a five-under-par 67 to join McIlroy in a tie for fourth, with Thomas Pieters also at that mark.
Offaly man Shane Lowry also had a good day, rising 20 places on the leaderboard with a four-under 68 that takes him to three-under-par for the tournament.
-12: Mike Lorenzo-Vera (France)
-9: Tommy Fleetwood (England), Jon Rahm (Spain)
-7: Tom Lewis (England)
-6: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (South Africa), Thomas Pieters (Belgium), RORY McILROY (Northern Ireland)
-5: Justin Rose (England), Marcus Kinhult (Sweden)
-4: Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa), Adri Arnaus (Spain), Thomas Detry (Belgium)
-3: SHANE LOWRY (Ireland), Bernd Wiesberger (Austria), Danny Willett (England), Rafa Cabrera Bello (Spain)
Belfast Telegraph Digital