Dubai World Championship: QuirÃ³s leads at halfway stage
Spaniard Alvaro QuirÃ³s equalled the course record with 64 to go four shots clear of the field after second round in Dubai
Alvaro QuirÃ³s will take a four-shot lead into the third round of the Dubai World Championship after a sensational display on Friday.
The Spaniard combined his conventionally brilliant driving with some exquisite iron play to match the course record and complete his second round in just 64 strokes.
He is 12 under par at the halfway stage, four clear of his nearest competitor Peter Hanson, who birdied the last hole to play himself into the final group tomorrow.
One shot further back are Robert Rock and, more significantly, Rory McIlroy, who bogeyed his final two holes in a sharp contrast to Thursday.
Sergio Garcia mixed some miraculous shots from around the green with a series of missed putts, and also bogeyed the last to record a one over par 73 for a four under par total after 36 holes.
Luke Donald was out early and produced a fine display to get right back into the tournament. He mirrored McIlroy’s finish yesterday to play the last three holes in three under and go into the weekend eight back on four under par.
Paul Casey and Paul Lawrie sit at six under par, the former carding a six under par 66 today to move into a tie for fifth.
Ryder Cup heroes Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell are both tied for 22nd on two under par, where they are joined by Ian Poulter (69) and Ross Fisher (74).
Scoring was good once again, despite a blustery and changeable win.
Spaniard QuirÃ³s will rightly dominate the headlines, with today’s round emphasising the added advantage that comes with having an average driving distance of 309 yards. Add to that a lovely putting stroke, and the future looks very bright for the man from Cadiz.
He played the front nine in three under 33 after birdies at two, four and eight, and moved up a notch on the back side.
His enormous hitting from the tee set up a series of short approaches, which translated to birdies at 11 and 16. He narrowly missed out on eagle on the par-five 14th, reaching the green of the 626 yard hole with a driver and an iron, but went one better at the 18th.
His drive down the right hand side of the fairway set up a three wood approach that landed almost pin high and rested some 20 feet right of the pin. His subsequent putt caught the left edge of the hole and fell in for the unlikeliest of eagles.
Akin to McIlroy yesterday, he was thrilled yet considered after his round. Despite his “great finish”, he was cautious to play down his fantastic round: “it’s just the second round, it doesn’t mean anything”. Memories of last week are still evidently prevalent in the memory; he led going into the final round only to finish in a tie for seventh.
Hanson, as is so often the case, failed to follow up his sublime opening round with a sub-par score. He did, however, birdie the last to earn his place alongside QuirÃ³s in the final group tomorrow.
It was a tale of two halves for playing partner Lawrie. Some world-class ball striking and iron play led to birdies at one, two and four, but he was left to rue further misses on the front nine as he collapsed to shoot 39 on the back side, albeit with a fine birdie four at the last.
McIlroy admitted that “I’ll need a really good weekend if I want to have a chance to win”, although, given that he recovered a three-shot deficit going into the last round in Hong Kong, “five shots over 36 holes shouldn’t be that much”.
Robert Rock, tied with McIlroy, cited improved putting and creativity around the greens as predominantly responsible for his three under 69 and seven under par total at the halfway stage.
Casey, struggling this season, has started to find some form of late. He finished in third place last week at the Chevron World Challenge (despite an opening seven over par 79), and today had “confidence to go for the pins”. He is just six back going into the weekend.
All eyes will once again be on the duel between McIlroy and Donald over the weekend. Donald will be hoping that QuirÃ³s continues to bully the Earth Course into submission, while the Englishman will take great heart from his show of resilience and character today. As McIlroy put it: “you’d expect that from the person ranked number one in the world”.