Rory McIlroy is known as one of the best drivers of the golf ball in the world.
On Saturday at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, McIlroy hit just two fairways. Yet, he finds himself just two shots off the lead halfway through a behind-schedule Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
“I chipped and putted it well, and I sort of, you know, got myself around the golf course OK,” said McIlroy, who has opened his first tournament since the DP World Tour finale in Dubai last November in 66-70. “Being able to post a couple of decent scores and at least have a chance going into the last two days. But definitely more negatives than positives and need to go and figure it out on the range.”
Full-field scores from the Hero Dubai Desert Classic
Other than a birdie on the par-5 third hole and 34-foot eagle make at the par-5 13th hole, McIlroy did little on Saturday following a lengthy weather delay that will push the final round to Monday. He managed, however, to avoid a bunch of mistakes, as he notched just one bogey.
At 8 under, McIlroy shares seventh with Matt Wallace, Bernd Wiesberger and Patrick Reed, the latter of whom McIlroy had a controversial exchange – or lack of exchange – with at the beginning of the week after McIlroy ignored Reed on the range and Reed flicked a tee toward him.
They are two shots behind co-leaders Thomas Pieters, Richard Bland and Stanford junior Michael Thorbjornsen.
On Sunday, Luke Donald and Henrik Stenson will be together again. They are grouped together for the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic.
However, McIlroy and Reed won’t be paired together for Sunday’s third round. McIlroy is grouped instead with LIV member Bernd Wiesberger and Dan Bradbury. Reed is a group ahead alongside Matt Wallace and Julien Brun. There is still some spice on the tee sheet, though, as Luke Donald is with Tyrrell Hatton and the Ryder Cup captain he replaced, Henrik Stenson.
“Thankfully for me, there’s two more rounds,” McIlroy added. “I’ve scrambled well this week. I really needed to scramble well on Thursday, and then again today in some spots. So, I think it’s nice when you’re not feeling on your game you have a short game to sort of bail you out, and I think that’s the reason why I’m still not too far away from the lead.
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