Rory McIlroy targets big finish in Dubai after a 67
Henrik Stenson still in pole position at Earth Course after a second round of 64
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland in action during the second round of the 2013 DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course at the Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Henrik Stenson of Sweden during the second round of the 2013 DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course at the Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy reckons he will need two rounds of 65 if he is to defend his DP World Tour Championship title after a 67 left him six shots off the pace in Dubai.
Henrik Stenson strengthened his grip on the Race to Dubai by claiming the lead at the halfway stage with 64 on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates to finish 12 under par. The Swede is one shot ahead of Spain’s Alejandro Canizares, who added a 67 to his opening 66.
McIlroy’s round contained five birdies, an eagle and two bogeys, and the former world number was not ready to throw in the towel.
“I think somewhere around 20 under par will win so I will need a couple of 65s,” said McIlroy, who shot back-to-back rounds of 66 to win here 12 months ago. “I finally feel I have got to the stage now when I can contend week in, week out and on the rare times I have got into contention this year I feel like I have played my best golf.”
The 37-year-old Stenson is looking to become the first man to win the Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup in the same season and is on course to clinch them both in the same imperious fashion. He went into the Tour Championship in September as one of five players who could claim the FedEx Cup by winning the tournament, and did exactly that to take the $10 million bonus. And this week the Swede is one of three players in similar control of their own destiny, knowing that a win on Sunday would secure overall victory in the Race to Dubai, status as European number one and another million dollar bonus.
Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose can still deny Stenson the title with victory. The Englishman is better placed on seven under after a 67, with Northern Ireland’s McDowell four under after a 68.
A win for Ian Poulter would leave Stenson needing to finish second to claim the Harry Vardon trophy, with Poulter alongside Rose on seven under following a 68.
“I have my game plan cemented on this course and it’s been working out great the first two days,” said Stenson, who carded eight birdies and no bogeys. “It could have been a bit better but there is no point being greedy. I am delighted with the first two days’ work.
“I keep track of what’s happening with the other players, I’m too curious not to. I saw both Justin and Ian are seven under so they are chasing me as hard as they can. They are not going to back down so I better keep my foot and my head down, play another two good rounds and see where that takes me. I am in a great position to have a shot at winning and hopefully I will be there on Sunday afternoon.”