Balky putter costs McIlroy, now 8 back in Abu Dhabi

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It appears the Abu Dhabi trophy will continue to elude Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy was in the mix at the halfway point of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, just two shots off the lead despite a rather balky putter.

The putter failed to cooperate once again on Saturday, and this time there was no hole-in-one to save his score.

McIlroy made only two birdies en route to a 1-under 71, a score that saw him get lapped on a day when most of the contenders broke 70. After starting the day alone in third place, McIlroy now finds himself in a tie for fifth, eight shots behind Martin Kaymer.

The key to the round was obvious on the stat sheet: McIlroy missed only one green in regulation, but he simply could not convert a putt and needed 34 swipes on the greens to complete his round.

"I just didn't putt well at all," he said. "Very disappointed. I hit the ball just as well as I did yesterday, gave myself so many chances and just didn't convert any really."

McIlroy has been a runner-up in Abu Dhabi three times in the last four years, and it appears that streak of near-misses will extend with Kaymer apparently on cruise control. McIlroy is joined at 12 under by Charl Schwartzel and Gary Stal, one shot behind Alexander Levy and Bernd Wiesberger and two shots behind Thomas Pieters, who remains alone in second place.

McIlroy spoke to reporters in a soft tone after the round, resigned to the fact that he will once again leave this particular desert stop empty-handed.

"Very wasteful today, and obviously playing for second place it looks like tomorrow," he said.