Dubai, United Arab Emirates (SportsNetwork.com) - Rory McIlroy birdied the final hole on Friday for a round of 2-under 70 and that left him one stroke clear of the field after two rounds of the Dubai Desert Classic.
McIlroy, who led by two after round one, finished 36 holes at 11-under 133. The 2009 winner has the 36-hole lead at this event for the fourth time in his career.
World No. 1 Tiger Woods mixed three bogeys and two birdies in a round of 1- over 73. He is tied for 44th at 3-under-par 141. American Brooks Koepka fired a 7-under 65 at the Emirates Golf Club to soar into second place at minus-10.
Danny Willett also posted a 65 and moved into a share of third place at 8- under 136. He stands alongside Damien McGrane and Julien Quesne, who both carded 2-under 70s on Friday.
Defending champion Stephen Gallacher scrambled to a 1-under 71. He was joined in sixth at minus-7 by Henrik Stenson (67), Robert Rock (70), Thongchai Jaidee (69), Edoardo Molinari (72), Justin Walters (68) and Jamie Donaldson (68).
Woods birdied the par-5 third to move to minus-5, but he gave the shot back on the sixth, where he 3-putted for bogey on No. 6.
That was Woods' first bogey of the week, but he picked up another on the ninth, where he failed to save par from over the green.
Woods stuffed his tee shot inside five feet at the 11th and rolled that putt in for birdie. After a pair of pars, Woods 3-putted for bogey on the 14th to slide back to minus-3 overall. He parred the last four holes to end there.
"I didn't hit it close enough, and I didn't hit it well enough," said Woods. "I had a bad warm up and it carried over."
McIlroy knocked his second over the green at the first, and that led to a bogey, which briefly dropped him to minus-8, where he was one behind Scott Hend.
After Hend faltered to a triple-bogey on the fifth, McIlroy recovered that lost stroke and the lead on the third. McIlroy rolled in a 9-footer for birdie on the fifth to move two clear of the field.
The 24-year-old birdied the par-5 seventh for the second day in a row. Around the turn, McIlroy chipped his third to two feet at the par-5 10th and kicked that in for birdie.
He was two clear of Koepka at that point. McIlroy found the desert off the 16th tee and had to pitch back to fairway. His third stopped within 10 feet of the hole, but he 2-putted for a bogey to drop back into a share of the lead with Koepka.
McIlroy rolled in a 6-footer for birdie at the last to end one clear of the field.
"Making a few birdies on the front nine and turning in 2-under par was a good effort, especially as the wind started to get up. I birdied 10, played 11 and 12 okay, but then missed that little one on 13, had a chance on 15 and didn't convert and made bogey on 16, but it was nice to birdie the last and at least give myself a 1-shot lead going into tomorrow," McIlroy said. "I hit a couple of loose drives, which I haven't done the last couple of weeks, but I still feel like I'm playing well enough to go and win the tournament."
Koepka flew out of the gate with three birdies in the first four holes from the 10th. He moved to minus-7 with a birdie on the 17th.
Around the turn, the 23-year-old American poured in three consecutive birdies from the first. That spurt moved Koepka to minus-10, and he ended there with six straight pars to close out his round.
NOTES: McIlroy also had the 36-hole lead at this event in 2009, 2011 and 2012 ... Prior to his 73 on Friday, Woods' scoring average in the second round at this event was 68.17 ... The cut line fell at 2-under-par 142 with 71 players moving on to the weekend ... Among those that missed the cut were Peter Uihlein, 2010 winner Miguel Angel Jimenez, three-time victor Ernie Els, John Daly, 2004 champ Mark O'Meara, Branden Grace, 1998 champion Jose Maria Olazabal and Matteo Manassero.