Rory McIlroy slid a 5-foot birdie putt inside the left edge of the cup on Friday to make the cut on the number at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
In whipping winds at Yas Links, McIlroy had played the back nine in 4 over par before coming to the 591-yard par-5 18th. Typically a great birdie opportunity, players faced a 30-mph wind off the left, with water all way down the left side.
McIlroy needed to get up-and-down from 44 yards to shoot 75 and post 3-over 145. Though Round 2 was suspended because of darkness, McIlroy did enough to secure a weekend tee time. Only once has he missed the cut in his first start of the new year, in 2013.
“I’ve never been so glad to get off the golf course,” he said walking off the 18th green.
World No. 2 Collin Morikawa also made the cut on the number. Both McIlroy and Morikawa, who also signed up for next week’s DP World Tour event in Dubai, begin the weekend nine shots off the lead.
It was a brutal day, as expected, during the second round of the first DP World Tour event of the year. In the early-late wave, McIlroy faced the toughest of the conditions, going out in even-par 36 after two bogeys and an eagle. On the back nine he began to let his round slip away, dropping shots on Nos. 13, 14 and 16.
On the 198-yard 17th, McIlroy flared his tee shot into the greenside bunker and missed an 8-foot par save, dropping him, for the moment, outside the projected cut line.
Used to mostly idyllic weather during his early-year trips to the Middle East, McIlroy could recall a couple of cold mornings in Abu Dhabi and the rare sandstorm in Dubai. “But nothing like this,” he said.
McIlroy has finished inside the top 20 in seven of his last eight events but will have work to do this weekend.
“Feel like I’m hitting it well,” he said afterward. “Hit it well on the range this morning. It’s all in there. Hopefully we’ll have a couple of calm days. I’d just like another two competitive days of play and see where I’m at.”