Friday, 20 November 2009
Dubai World Championship - Round One  (Getty Images)
Dubai World Championship - Round One (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy roared into the lead with a dazzling front nine of only 31 at the Dubai World Championship presented by: DP World today.

Joint fifth after an opening 68 and two shots behind Order of Merit rival Lee Westwood, the 20 year old Northern Irishman eagled the 572 yard par five seventh hole and birdied the first, second and ninth holes of the Earth course.

At nine under par McIlroy, leading The Race to Dubai by more than €128,000 and trying to become the youngest European Tour Number One since Seve Ballesteros in 1976, was one ahead of Westwood.

Westwood, the 2000 Money List winner, had moved into a two stroke lead by matching McIlroy's start but then had to be content with five successive pars.

That included the long seventh, where McIlroy's approach had rolled down a slope to within four feet of the flag.

McIlroy had said he was happy not to be paired with Westwood after he lost their head-to-head by two yesterday, but it looked as if they might be back together for the third round.

Sharing third place on seven under were Padraig Harrington, Colombian Camilo Villegas and South African Louis Oosthuizen, overnight leader Robert Allenby having bogeyed the first and fourth to drop down to five under.

German Martin Kaymer and England's Ross Fisher were the other two players still in with a chance of the Order of Merit crown, but they had to finish fourth and second respectively and that looked a remote possibility when they reached halfway on two under and level par respectively.

Kaymer still had high hopes when he went to the turn in 34 and with two to play stood four under, but a bad chip on the 17th was followed by a trip to the water on the last. Both led to bogeys and him signing for another 71.

Fisher also shot 71, a two-shot improvement on the first day, and commented: "I'm really disappointed. I felt I played really, really well but now I've just got to try to go for everything.”

Back on the course, McIlroy was two clear when Westwood bogeyed the 461-yard eighth and it was Harrington who then cut the gap to one. 

The three-time Major Championship winner also eagled the seventh and followed that with three successive birdies to reach eight under.

Just when it looked like being a day to remember for McIlroy he three-putted the long 14th and did the same on the next, missing from three feet both times. 

Both were for bogeys - and at the 15th he was lucky it was not worse as he had driven into a bush, but was able to get the ball on the green without taking a penalty drop. 

He was back to seven under and down to joint third with Westwood with Harrington grabbing another birdie on the 14th to stand nine under and Allenby picking up shots at the 10th and 11th to be eight under.

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