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  • Dubai Desert Classic, Round Two

Devastating McIlroy roars into Dubai lead

ESPN staff
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Rory McIlroy won the event in 2009 © PA Photos
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Rory McIlroy continued his love affair with Dubai as he blazed to the top of the Dubai Desert Classic leaderboard with a flawless round of 65 on Friday.

McIlroy, who won the event in 2009, took the clubhouse lead on 13-under alongside later finisher Thomas Bjorn - one shot clear of Rafael Cabrera-Bello and two ahead of Martin Kaymer.

The Ulsterman was at his majestic best, firing in four birdies on his opening nine holes to make great strides up the leaderboard. There was no slowing down from the US Open champion - piercing iron play allowing him to pick up three more shots after the turn for a scintillating round of seven-under.

"I just kept picking up birdies along the way and it puts me in a great position," McIlroy said. "I feel a lot more confident than I did in Abu Dhabi."

Bjorn, looking to bounce back after a disappointing defence of his Qatar Masters title last week, soon matched McIlroy's performance with a 65 of his own - making five birdies on the back nine to surge to the front.

World No. 4 Kaymer is in hot pursuit, the German completing a more colourful scorecard for a five-under 67. Beginning the day on the 10th hole, Kaymer made a fast start by rolling in an immediate birdie. Two more followed in a bogey-free first nine, before he drained another to threaten a really low score. A bogey at the par-three fourth checked his progress but he sandwiched an eagle - a magnificent hole-in-one at the par-three seventh - in between four pars to keep the pressure up on McIlroy.

It was the first hole-in-one of the German's career, a fitting reward for a pinpoint eight-iron from 180 yards, as he finished the day 11-under alongside Scott Jamieson and Gregory Bourdy.

That was one clear of Lee Westwood, who brought himself firmly into contention with his own seven-under round of 65. A strong finish was once again the key for the Englishman, as he reeled off three successive birdies over those closing three holes to move 10-under overall.

The best round of the day went to Henrik Stenson, as an eagle at the par-five 13th enabled him to sign for a round of 64 that left him eight-under for both the round and the event.

Defending champion Alvaro Quiros remains in the hunt, although he needs to produce something considerable to mount a serious challenge after a second consecutive 70. He was soon on the back foot after two early bogeys and, although he showed tenacity to turn it around, the Spaniard will hope his best golf is to come if he is to overcome a nine-shot deficit.

Scotland's Stephen Gallacher is only three strokes behind McIlroy, a hugely impressive 65 building on the solid foundations he laid on day one, while Robert Rock bounced back from his disappointing opening 73 with a bogey-free 67 to put him on four-under for the tournament.

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