When Rory McIlroy clinched the European Tour money title before the season's final tournament, there was plenty of disappointment that the DP World Tour Championship would be devoid of drama.
But it would be difficult to ask for a better storyline going into the weekend, after world No. 1 McIlroy and world No. 2 Luke Donald ended up as part of a three-way tie for the lead after 36 holes in Dubai.
Little-known Briton Marc Warren is also tied for the lead at 11-under 133.
Donald, the first-round leader, played a bogey-free round in shooting a 4-under 68. McIlroy went that one better with a 67 that included just one bogey.
''Obviously, haven't dropped a shot in 36 holes, so feel good about that,'' said Donald. ''I had some opportunities, 10-foot, 15-footers on a few holes that I just misread. But that was a solid round of golf.''
''Coming back from a long break, so trying to get some good vibrations going and I managed to finish better than that,'' said Garcia, who now sits just four off the pace.
McIlroy played well despite not feeling well, saying he thought he had gotten sunstroke.
''I continued driving the ball well today and gave myself plenty of opportunities,'' said McIlroy. ''Missed a couple of short ones on the front nine for birdies. But apart from that, it was a very solid round of golf and obviously in good position going into the weekend.