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McIlroy Maintains Dubai Invitational Lead

Rory McIlroy overcame windy conditions and a quadruple-bogey to get to 12 under par and keep hold of his two-shot lead heading into the weekend at the Dubai Invitational.

The World Number Two had dominated the first day in the desert, carding a bogey-free 62 to begin the defence of his Race to Dubai title.

He would not have it all his own way in round two at Dubai Creek Resort, however, going from four ahead to a four-way tie at the top after finding the water twice at the eighth.

But the four-time Major winner recovered with three birdies on the back nine to sign for a 70 and lead the way from German Yannik Paul and Dane Jeff Winther at ten under.

McIlroy has a fine record in the United Arab Emirates, winning the Hero Dubai Desert Classic three times and the DP World Tour Championship twice, and goes into the weekend chasing a 17th DP World Tour title. 

English duo Tommy Fleetwood and Jordan Smith, South African pair Thriston Lawrence and Zander Lombard and Dane Thorbjørn Olesen are at seven under, a shot clear of another Dane in Rasmus Højgaard.

In the team event, host Abdulla Al Naboodah leads the way by two shots after contributing three birdies and a par in a 67 alongside Pablo Larrazábal and will play with McIlroy in Saturday's final team round.

Player Quotes

Rory McIlroy: I think if I look at the other 17 holes that I played, I played very, very well again. Hit some good iron shots.

Played not too dissimilarly to the way I played yesterday. I maybe holed a couple more putts yesterday. But the condition were getting a little trickier. Wind was up. Greens were firm and a couple of miscues on the 8th hole.

I felt like I did well just to get my head back into it and play some solid golf on the way in, and everyone seemed to find it a little more difficult today than yesterday. So, it's nice to go into the weekend still with the lead.

Yeah, 10 was big. I had a chance to bounce back on 9 that I missed but 10 was big. The two shots into 13 were big, too.

And to make two relatively easy birdies, and then I give myself chances most of the back nine, which was nice, and I was able to convert a couple before that tough finishing stretch there on 17 and 18.

Jeff Winther: I'm surprised. I haven't played since Mauritius. First ball I hit was here on Monday. I love this format. It great. You meet brilliant guys you wouldn't meet normally. Yeah, it's great. I love it. It's very loose. I consider it quite loose, at least.

I don't know, I think I'm just more relaxed. More like, if it comes, it comes. You obviously gain more confidence the better you play, the more results you make. 

So, I'm just here to enjoy. This was actually just a warm up for me. Came from a massive 40th; my wife just turned 40. So we had a massive party on Friday, and didn't feel well until Wednesday.

Yannik Paul: Obviously today was quite a bit tougher. The wind was a bit stronger. The greens firmed out a bit more and the pins were in tough spots as well, and just in between numbers most of the round, so it was tough to get close to the pins. I just fought hard, and in a good position for the weekend.

So I felt like the game was pretty similar to yesterday but sometimes you have really good numbers, and today was kind of like a lot of in between and then it's hard to get close to the pins and it's obviously hard to make birdies. I'm happy the way I fought on the back nine and looking forward to the weekend.

Tommy Fleetwood: It was frustrating for, I would say, the first 12, 13 holes. I was poor on the greens, really. I missed a short putt on 16 and missed a couple more chances. Didn't feel like I was putting that bad, but still, you've got to get it in the hole and I wasn't doing that.

I'm pretty good and consistent with goals that I've set. I think you have to give yourself some direction, where you're going.

It's always nice starting out a year fresh. I really like everybody's attitude when you're coming out at the start of the year. Everybody is really motivated, so it's great being around everyone.

Round Two Scores

132 R MCILROY (NIR) 62 70, 
 134 Y PAUL (GER) 64 70, J WINTHER (DEN) 68 66, 
 135 T OLESEN (DEN) 66 69, T FLEETWOOD (ENG) 66 69, J SMITH (ENG) 68 67, T LAWRENCE (RSA) 65 70, Z LOMBARD (RSA) 67 68, 
 136 R H?JGAARD (DEN) 68 68, 
 137 J LUITEN (NED) 71 66, E FERGUSON (SCO) 69 68, A OTAEGUI (ESP) 67 70, A MERONK (POL) 70 67, S CROCKER (USA) 67 70, 
 138 F MOLINARI (ITA) 68 70, N H?JGAARD (DEN) 67 71, H LI (CHN) 68 70, 
 139 R MANSELL (ENG) 70 69, J GUERRIER (FRA) 69 70, 
 140 T MCKIBBIN (NIR) 71 69, J CAMPILLO (ESP) 70 70, G MIGLIOZZI (ITA) 70 70, R FOX (NZL) 70 70, T BJ?RN (DEN) 71 69, R LANGASQUE (FRA) 71 69, M KIEFFER (GER) 70 70, A ROZNER (FRA) 68 72, D BRADBURY (ENG) 71 69, 
 141 D HILLIER (NZL) 72 69, L DONALD (ENG) 71 70, G FORREST (SCO) 73 68, M SOUTHGATE (ENG) 70 71, 
 142 P LARRAZ?BAL (ESP) 70 72, K SAMOOJA (FIN) 70 72, H DU PLESSIS (RSA) 70 72, C SHINKWIN (ENG) 69 73, S S?DERBERG (SWE) 71 71, 
 143 T CLEMENTS (ENG) 72 71, M SIEM (GER) 73 70, O STRYDOM (RSA) 71 72, H LONG (GER) 73 70, N KIMSEY (ENG) 71 72, N ELVIRA (ESP) 69 74, C HILL (SCO) 71 72, 
 144 O WILSON (ENG) 74 70, 
 145 A ARNAUS (ESP) 72 73, M ARMITAGE (ENG) 72 73, 
 146 R RAMSAY (SCO) 72 74, N BACHEM (GER) 73 73, D WHITNELL (ENG) 73 73, 
 147 M HELLIGKILDE (DEN) 74 73, A WU (CHN) 74 73, 
 148 M BALDWIN (ENG) 70 78, S FORSSTR?M (SWE) 75 73, C SYME (SCO) 74 74, 
 149 J BRUN (FRA) 75 74, D BROWN (ENG) 70 79, 
 150 D GAVINS (ENG) 77 73, 
 152 J DANTORP (SWE) 76 76, 
 169 K WEYAND (USA) 87 82, 

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