Rory McIlroy said earlier in the week that anything less than a victory at the Dubai Desert Classic would be a disappointment. He needs a really good weekend to leave satisfied.
McIlroy birdied his final three holes Friday at Emirates Golf Club to salvage an even-par 72 in Round 2. He’s six back of 36-hole leader Rafael Cabrera-Bello.
Cabrera-Bello (67) is at 10 under par. Ernie Els (67), Trevor Fisher, Jr. (68) and Danny Willett (65) are tied for second at 9 under.
McIlroy, for the second consecutive day, dropped a shot at his first hole. He turned in 3-over 38 and made his fifth bogey of the round at No. 11. And then things changed. The world No. 2 birdied Nos. 12, 16, 17 and 18 to come home in 3-under 34.
''I struggled in the wind a little bit and didn't get off to the best of starts again,'' McIlroy said. ''Being 2 over through four on this golf course when you have a couple of good birdie chances wasn't great.
''The middle of the round was tough. There were a few holes that were playing really tough, and I struggled on those, but I bounced back well and persevered and got something out of the round in the end. I just need to make sure I get off to a fast start tomorrow.''
McIlroy has won this event twice, including last year.