As Tiger Woods contemplated missing the cut in Phoenix, the card compiled by Rory McIlroy in Dubai must have seemed not so much like numbers from the other side of the world as another world.
McIlroy leads by one at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic after a second-round 64, just 20 strokes more than Woods took to negotiate his outward nine at the Waste (of time) Management Open.
Woods’ downward spiral after returning from back surgery under new coach Chris Como included a triple-bogey eight at the par-5 15th, his sixth. A total of seven strokes went in the space of five holes as Woods equalled his highest nine-hole sequence, set at Memorial two years ago.
Compare this to the run compiled by the unassailable McIlroy, whose aggregate for his last 46 rounds of golf stands at a staggering 154 under par.
In a third of those the world No 1 has shot totals of 66 or fewer. And still he is not happy. “I missed a few chances on the back nine, 12, 13, 14, but I can’t really complain – 64 is a nice score and obviously sets me up really well for the weekend. I couldn’t ask for much more: bogey free, made birdies. I didn’t play my best but I definitely improved from tee to green and was able to make some putts.”
After a double-bogey on the 4th, his 13th, and with five holes of his second round to play in Arizona, Woods stood last at 12 over par.
Woods’ short game, a strength in the glory years, was once again at the heart of his difficulties. No problem for McIlroy, who drove the 351-yard second and only narrowly missed from the tee at the 359-yard 17th.
A chip and a putt saw him drain his seventh birdie of the day, and another at the last took him to the outright lead on 14 under par, one clear of Scotland’s Marc Warren, and two clear of Graeme McDowell and Seve Benson.Reuse content