What it means: Sullivan and Grillo were able to separate themselves a bit, but there are still 19 other players at 6 under or better. Justin Rose, Branden Grace, Martin Kaymer and Matthew Fitzpatrick are at 7 under. Danny Willett, the current Race to Dubai No. 2, is in a large group at 6 under. That equals lots of firepower near the top of the leaderboard with still 36 holes to play.
Round of the day: Grillo’s 64. Already a winner in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, Grillo had eight birdies and no bogeys in the second round – and he did it playing alongside McIlroy. It was the low round of the day.
Best of the rest: There were four 65’s posted on Friday, including by Reed and Schwartzel. Reed’s round consisted of nine birdies and two bogeys – five birdies over his final six holes. Schwartzel’s was more clean: seven birdies, no bogeys. Reed, last week’s runner-up in China, has three consecutive top-10 finishes on the European Tour.
Biggest disappointment: Ian Poulter. He started the day one back, but turned in 2-over 38 after going double bogey-bogey on Nos. 5 and 6. The back nine was a mundane 36, for an overall, 2-over 74. Poulter is winless on tour since 2012.
Storyline entering the weekend: There are lots of heavyweights in the tournament mix, but the primary focus is still on world No. 3 McIlroy. His goal at the start of the week was simple: Win the event to win the Race. And, after two rounds in Dubai, he’s in position to do that. Can he close out the final two to put a positive spin on the season?