Friday, January 30, 2015


Rory McIlroy produced a sensational eight-under-par 64 at the scene of his first professional victory to grab a one-shot halfway lead at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

The World Number One has followed three wins – two of them Major Championships – with a hat-trick of runner-up finishes in his last six European Tour starts, and continued that majestic form at Emirates Golf Club.
Victory here in 2009 set McIlroy on his way to the pinnacle of the game, and the chances of a repeat look good after a flawless eight-birdie round that left him one ahead of Scotland’s Marc Warren, pictured.

“I couldn't ask for much more: bogey free, made birdies, and set myself up for a good run over the next couple days,” said McIlroy.
“I didn't play my best but I definitely improved from tee to green out there and was able to make some putts. It was a great round and I'm going to need something similar over the next couple of days to stay in the position that I'm in.

 “I'm in a great position, obviously. But there are so many people that are close to the lead and it's so bunched up there. 
“Even though I'm in the lead, there's so many people still in with a chance if they shoot a good round tomorrow. I’ve just got to go out there, stay aggressive, stick to the game plan and try to make as many birdies as I can.”
After driving the 351yd par-4 second and two-putting for birdie, the 25 year old Ulsterman got up-and down from rough at the par five second and holed a 30 footer at the fifth.

He made light work of the long tenth, fired his tee shot to a couple of feet at the short 11th and, having missed good birdie chances at the next three holes, finally made another gain after a massive drive at the 16th was followed by a wedge to six feet.
He almost drove the 359yd 17th, where a chip and putt secured birdie, and finished with a 12 footer for a closing hat-trick of gains and 14 under par total.
Asked about his superlative form, McIlroy added: “I missed a few chances on the back nine, 12, 13, 14, but I can't really complain - 64 is a nice score out there and obviously sets me up really well for the weekend.

“I saw a stat yesterday, that since the first round of The Open, I've played 45 rounds and a third of them were 66 or better, which just shows you the level that I am at. I've put the work in and I've worked hard; I continue to work hard and this is the result, which is nice.”
Earlier Warren, who pushed Branden grace all the way in Abu Dhabi last week, birdied two of his last three holes courtesy of putts from 25 feet at the seventh and 12 feet at the ninth for a round of 65.
“It seems to be going well,” said the Made in Denmark winner. “At this moment in time I'm comfortable in my swing and pretty free mentally, so I just hit the shots that I see: it's a nice place to be.”
McIlroy’s compatriot Graeme McDowell was also round in a seven under 65 to sit alongside England’s Seve Benson (66) on 12 under, with defending champion Stephen Gallacher, former World Number One Lee Westwood and overnight leader Bernd Wiesberger a shot further back.

The most notable player to miss the cut was Sergio Garcia with 75-71 for 146, not even close to make it through on 142.

RORY McILROY - ''I didn't play my best but I definitely improved from tee‑to‑green out there and was able to make some putts. It was a great round and I'm going to need something similar over the next couple of days to stay in the position that I'm in.
"I'm in a great position obviously, but there are so many people that are close to the lead and it's so bunched up there. Even though I'm in the lead, there are so many people still in with a chance if they shoot a good round tomorrow. I've just got to go out there, stay aggressive, stick to the game plan and try to make as many birdies as I can."

MARC WARREN – “It was very good, but I would say from the fairways in, a little bit scrappy. Probably scrappier than I have been off the tee but fortunately wasn't too much trouble and managed to give myself a lot of chances today.
“Obviously with eight birdies, you've got to be rolling the ball nicely on the green to do that, and I holed a nice 15‑footer on the last there, which is always a nice feeling.
“Since the wee man (son Archie) has come along the last few years, it's been been pretty strong for me and takes a bit of pressure off you I suppose. In a way, that no matter how my day's gone, he's generally quite happy to see me.
“It helps me totally forget about golf, as opposed to kind of thinking about it at night time or anything like that.”

SEVE BENSON  – “I got momentum early doors and carried it right the way through. There was a little hiccup on 18 there, but I just chose sort of the wrong shot for the wrong lie but apart from that, it was a very solid round.
“I didn't really realise I was doing it (playing so well). I was just playing each shot as it was coming, just enjoying it, really, trying to hole putts and they were dropping.

  – “Despite the fact that it is important to me every week that I tee it up that I am ready, my expectation levels were in check this week.
“They were low‑ish, because after six weeks off, you expect a little bit of rust. You don't expect to be 100 percent sharp. The first eight holes yesterday were hugely important to me because I didn't play well and I hung in there really well, scored well, and eventually when the swing did bed in and I got the old feeling back, I started to make some birdies. The last 28 holes have been pretty solid.
“Starting on the back nine here at this golf course, it gives you an opportunity to get off to a good start. You do most of your scoring, I feel like, on the first three holes and on the last nine. There's that stretch of holes from about four or five through to nine, which is really the testing part of this golf course.
“So getting off on the back nine, getting out to a nice start, and my last 27 holes have been pretty solid and nice to be in some kind of touch going into the weekend.”

- "I haven't made a bogey yet, that shows how solidly I'm playing. I played the par fives a lot better today, which I wanted to do after yesterday. I played them in four-under, which is fortunate, and didn't birdie any other holes.  But I hit it well, hit it close a few times.
"The nice thing was that I hit a lot of good putts, and just some days they don't go in. You misread the grain and it doesn't take a lot to miss a putt. It was nice to make the one on 15 for a par save, a nice ten- or 12‑footer down the hill and that keeps your momentum going. 
"It's my first tournament of the year  and you don't know what to expect. You don't know how you're going to come out of the winter break but I've come out of it pretty sharp and hitting the ball well. I'm pleased with my total over the first two days and looking forward to a good weekend, getting into contention and hopefully winning."

STEPHEN GALLACHER - "I'm delighted with the way I played today. That was the strongest I think I've played around here. I gave myself a lot of chances. I got the putts late at the end but to be in touch going into the weekend is exactly where you want to be.
"I think the course is just in unbelievable condition. The greens are perfect, so if you get the sort of run of the green, you can see it going in. The par fives are reachable, and it's just good to play.
"Definitely, the way I'm playing, I feel like I can challenge. I gave myself plenty of chances. All you can do is be in touch going into the last couple of days and see what happens from there.
SCOTSWATCH: Stephen Gallacher showed a brave heart as well as a lot of skill in shooting seven birdies in halves of 33-34, four of them in a five-hole span from the 13th to the 17th - after a double bogey 6 at the 12th.
The Bathgate man, bidding to win the title three times in a row, had earlier birdies at the first, third and 11th.
Gallacher is T5, only three off the pace.
Paul Lawrie (71), Richie Ramsay (70) are T41 on four-under 140.
Scott Jamieson and Chris Doak survived on the limit mark of 142, Jamieson thanks to a very good second-round 68.
David Drysdale (72 for 144) and Craig Lee (74 for 145) did not make it.

Par 144 (2x72)
130 R McIlroy  (NIr) 66 64,
131 M Warren (Sco) 66 65,
132 S Benson (Eng) 66 66, G McDowell  (NIr) 67 65,
133 D Willett  (Eng) 67 66, B Wiesberger  (Aut) 64 69, L Westwood (Eng) 65 68, A Sullivan (Eng) 65 68, S Gallacher (Sco) 66 67,
134 R Paratore (Ita) 68 66, M Kieffer (Ger) 66 68, P Uihlein  (USA) 65 69, M Madsen  (Den) 71 63,
135 E Grillo (Arg) 67 68, P Larrazábal (Esp) 69 66, A Noren  (Swe) 68 67, R Rock (Eng) 68 67,
136 H Stenson (Swe) 70 66, M Kaymer (Ger) 67 69, J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 70 66, P Waring  (Eng) 69 67,
137 J Campillo (Esp) 67 70,
138 T Pieters  (Bel) 69 69, M Lampert (Ger) 71 67, K Broberg (Swe) 69 69, A Hansen (Den) 66 72, J Luiten (Ned) 68 70, G Stal  (Fra) 69 69, R Green (Aus) 70 68, W Ormsby (Aus) 69 69, M Ilonen  (Fin) 67 71,
139 G Havret  (Fra) 68 71, A Wall (Eng) 69 70, R Fisher (Eng) 71 68, D Lipsky (USA) 68 71, H Otto (RSA) 66 73, T Jaidee (Tha) 71 68, T Aiken (RSA) 68 71, G Mulroy (RSA) 69 70, N Colsaerts  (Bel) 65 74
140 B An (SKor) 70 70, E Espana (Fra) 70 70, A Levy (Fra) 72 68, T Hatton (Eng) 71 69, G Bourdy (Fra) 69 71, R Bland (Eng) 71 69, P Lawrie (Sco) 69 71, M Lorenzo-Vera  (Fra) 70 70, A Johnston (Eng) 68 72, Y Yang (SKor) 67 73, D Howell (Eng) 71 69,
141 T Lewis (Eng) 68 73, R Ramsay  (Sco) 71 70, D McGrane (Irl) 71 70, A Cañizares  (Esp) 72 69, F Aguilar (Chi) 70 71, O Farr (Wal) 73 68
142 E Molinari  (Ita) 70 72, M Carlsson  (Swe) 71 71, D Van Der Walt (RSA) 69 73, B Grace  (RSA) 73 69, T Fleetwood  (Eng) 72 70, P Lawrie (Irl) 73 69, R Jacquelin (Fra) 71 71, E Els (RSA) 72 70, A Quiros  (Esp) 73 69, B Dredge (Wal) 71 71, S Jamieson  (Sco) 74 68, C Doak (Sco) 72 70, J Palmer (Eng) 74 68, D Brooks (Eng) 69 73, M Hoey  (Nir) 72 70, D Foos (Ger) 71 71, M Foster (Eng) 73 69, M Baldwin (Eng) 71 71,


143 N Fasth (Swe) 71 72, R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 70 73, M Nixon (Eng) 72 71, S Khan (Eng) 69 74, B Rumford (Aus) 73 70, E Pepperell (Eng) 74 69, J Morrison  (Eng) 72 71, R Karlsson (Swe) 71 72, A Marjane  (Mar) 70 73,
144 J Lando Casanova  (Fra) 72 72, T Olesen (Den) 72 72, D Drysdale (Sco) 72 72, F Zanotti (Par) 71 73, M Tullo (Chi) 73 71, J Van Zyl (RSA) 71 73, J Singh (Ind) 70 74, J Roos (RSA) 68 76, T Bjørn (Den) 72 72, D Clarke (Nir) 73 71,
145 O Wilson (Eng) 71 74, M Siem  (Ger) 75 70, J Carlsson (Swe) 71 74, C Lee (Sco) 71 74, B Hebert  (Fra) 74 71, L Bjerregaard  (Den) 71 74, R McGowan  (Eng) 72 73, G Coetzee (RSA) 76 69, R Wattel  (Fra) 75 70, D Horsey (Eng) 72 73,
146 S Garcia  (Esp) 75 71, Z Scotland  (Eng) 71 75, P Meesawat  (Tha) 74 72, R Finch  (Eng) 74 72,
147 J Olazábal (Esp) 72 75, M Crespi  (Ita) 71 76, J Kruger (RSA) 73 74, M Lundberg (Swe) 74 73, J White (Eng) 75 72,
148 S Kjeldsen (Den) 75 73, S Webster (Eng) 72 76, D Fichardt (RSA) 74 74, O Fisher  (Eng) 73 75, S Hend (Aus) 71 77, G Storm  (Eng) 75 73, S Kapur (Ind) 71 77,
149 S Dyson  (Eng) 71 78, M Fitzpatrick  (Eng) 73 76,
150 L Joy (Eng) 77 73, J Allan (am) (Eng) 78 72,
151 J Barnes (Eng) 76 75,
152 M Harradine (am) (Swi) 75 77,
153 S Hutsby  (Eng) 74 79,
155 M Manassero (Ita) 79 76,
156 F Serghini  (Mar) 82 74,
157 J Jeong (SKor) 77 80,
164 J Ballesteros (Esp) 83 81,
** J Quesne  (Fra) 75 DQ,




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