McIlroy and Donald poised for a shoot-out


Rory McIlroy was probably the wrong person to ask if the Earth Course here should be toughened up for the European Tour’s season finale. A second-round 67 leaves him with a halfway share of the lead at the Dubai World Championship, alongside Luke Donald and Marc Warren.

That aggregate score is 11-under par, with McIlroy on track to meet his ambition of departing from the Emirates with two trophies as hand luggage. He has already claimed the Race to Dubai order of merit.

There are 14 players within three shots of the leading trio and only seven of the 60-man field sit over par for 36 holes. Given the prominence of McIlroy and Donald at the business end of the event, its organisers look like being granted the desired denouement.

The level of scoring, though, prompts a legitimate debate over whether such a prominent – and lucrative – competition should be played over a more testing layout.

“The scoring is low but you still want to have a balance,” said McIlroy. “You want to see guys making birdies. You don’t want people grinding for par all the time because it’s no fun to watch and it’s no fun to play, either.

“You want to have chances for birdies and you want to give yourself opportunities.

“This course could be a little bit tougher. They could bring the rough in a little bit, the fairways are very generous. But, you know, it’s a great end to the season. It’s a great place. It’s nice to be here, in the top 60 [in Europe] and it’s a reward for a lot of the guys. It’s a course that should be enjoyable to play.”

Warren was tipped for greatness by his compatriot Colin Montgomerie after the pair claimed the World Cup in 2007. Five years on, he finally looks like fulfilling his undoubted potential. Having played yesterday with Donald, he will partner McIlroy for round three.

“I played in the Walker Cup alongside Luke so it was great to be back in that position and to perform as well as I did,” Warren said.

Yesterday Sergio Garcia, in his first outing since he underwent laser eye treatment, equalled the course record of 64 with an extraordinary morning’s play. His round featured two eagles, nine birdies, two bogeys and a triple bogey.

Pádraig Harrington slipped back into a tie for 23rd spot after a 71, Peter Lawrie is tied for 31st following a 72 while Graeme McDowell is one-over par after a disappointing 73.

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