Friday, 19 March 2010
Dubai Desert Classic Completion Round 1  (Getty Images)
Dubai Desert Classic Completion Round 1 (Getty Images)

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy sensationally eagled the final hole of his second round to take a one stroke lead at the halfway point of the Dubai Desert Classic.

The 19 year old first round leader drained a 25 foot putt at the last after safely playing his approach to the left of the flag with a precise six iron to move a shot clear of in form South African Louis Oosthuizen and Dubai based Henrik Stenson at 12 under par.

Abu Dhabi and Qatar runner-up Oosthuizen picked up seven shots on the back nine which included a hole in one to card a seven under 65 to move alongside Stenson.

The Swede only lives a few minutes from the Emirates Golf Club and the 2007 champion enjoyed a well deserved lie in this morning after firing a bogey free second round 65 on day two.

“At the last I hit a perfect tee shot around the corner, I’m hitting that little draw pretty well at the minute so I just hit it perfect,” said McIlroy.

“I only left myself 197 yards to the pin, which is unusual on that last hole. But I hit a great shot in and it was probably playing a little safe trying to hit it just to the left of the pin. It was a huge bonus to hole the putt for eagle.”

After the second rounds were finally completed after six hours were lost to fog over the last two days, the third round will be played from two tees and in a three ball format in an attempt to finish as many rounds as possible by this evening.

Oosthuizen has finished runner-up at the last two events in Abu Dhabi and Qatar and continued his bid for a maiden European Tour title after a second round 65 left the 26 year old just a shot adrift of McIlroy.

After reaching the turn in level par Oosthuizen picked up five shots in a four holes, helped out by the 168 yard six iron strike at the par three 11th.

But the likes of McIlroy and Stenson are expected to have to still play around 25 holes on Sunday.

“I saw it all the way. It came running towards the pin and next thing you know, my playing partners turned around and gave me a high-five so I guessed it was in,” he said.

“It was a great club at the middle of the flag and it dropped in, it was a nice feeling.

“It’s my first one in tournament golf. I liked it from the start and it dropped a metre from the hole and rolled in so it was good.

“I had one when I was 13. I think it was the same distance but the only difference was it was a three-iron. It was a nice shot and I’ll never forget that. That was back in South Africa and I won’t forget this one either.”

World Number 39 McIlroy, who is still searching for his maiden Tour win after two play-off defeats last year, had started his second round on Friday evening and briefly dropped back to seven under after dropping a shot over three holes before bad light stopped play.

But he returned this morning to follow up his first round eight under 64 with three birdies in seven holes around the turn before his final hole heroics.

“I missed a few putts on the back nine, I gave myself a fair few chances, but all in all, it was probably a fair reflection of how I played,” added McIlroy.

“But I knew that putt at the last was for the lead after two rounds and it’s nice. I led after the first day and if I can just keep going it will be very nice.”

Justin Rose joined Australian Richard Green tied for fourth at ten under after carding a second round 66.

Yesterday 1997 champion Green leapt up the leaderboard with a bogey free nine under par 63.

Frenchman Grégory Havret (68) sits alone at nine under, with Robert Karlsson (71), World Number Two Sergio Garcia (66), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño (70) and The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship winner Paul Casey (68) a shot further off the pace.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MCILROY, RoryNIR18-19
2ROSE, JustinENG18-18
3STENSON, HenrikSWE18-17
T4CASEY, PaulENG18-16
T4KARLSSON, RobertSWE18-16
T4KAYMER, MartinGER18-16
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