Rory McIlroy endured a frustrating back nine on the South Course at the Farmers Insurance Open as three dropped shots hit his hopes of victory.
After Thursday's round of 67 on the North Course, McIlroy acknowledged that he was expecting a tougher test yesterday which was how it proved with two birdies and three bogeys on his card in a round of 73.
Over on the North Course, Ryan Palmer seized the lead with a stunning round of 62 which even included a bogey at the final hole. On 10 under, Palmer leads by two shots from Brandt Snedeker with McIlroy back on four under par.
Tiger Woods endured similar struggles to McIlroy on the South Course, although a birdie on the last gave him a 71 to lie alongside McIlroy on four under.
Shane Lowry bounced back from his Abu Dhabi disappointment to move onto the fringes of contention in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The Open champion followed a hard-fought 72 with a 69 to move up to tied 15th, just five shots behind halfway leader Eddie Pepperell.
Ryder Cup skipper Pádraig Harrington confessed to hitting the ball "all over the place" as he shot 75 to sneak in for the weekend on the two-over cut mark.
Pepperell fired a five-under 67 to lead by a shot on eight-under par from South African Dean Burmester, Ryder Cup vice-captain Robert Karlsson (50) and defending champion Bryson DeChambeau. Graeme McDowell dropped five shots in his last five holes and shot 75 to miss the cut by one.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Bolger (67-69) and Damian Mooney (70-66) finished joint top at the First Stage of the Staysure Tour Qualifying School in Portugal. In amateur golf, Ireland fell 5-4 to England in the title decider in the Octagonal Trophy in Cadiz.