by Jeff Skinner
Rory McIlroy recovered from a poor start at The Dubai World Championship but managed to settle down for a sizzling back nine to pull away from Luke Donald. McIlroy committed the ultimate sin for a professional when he double bogeyed the par five second hole. He did mange three birdies on the front to pair with his double and a bogey at the eighth and went to the tenth tee at even par.
McIlroy then composed himself and went on a putting streak that vaulted him into contention for the championship. At the tenth his approach left him a six foot birdie putt which he made. The thirtieth was the scene of a double breaker that found the cup for another bird. Again at the fourteenth he birdied and at the sixteenth he drained a forty footer for another stunning birdie. After a pure tee ball to the par three seventeenth left him an uphill putt he carded another bird and on eighteen he drained a long, sweeping left to right downhill putt for his sixth bird on the back nine. His 30 over the last nine holes gave him a six under 66 and placed him two shots behind leader Peter Hanson and six strokes clear of money leader Luke Donald.
Donald also started poorly with a bogey at the first but managed to gather himself and birdie four of the next eight holes. After opening the back nine with four pars he cost himself greatly as his tee balls found trouble. Three consecutive bogies dropped him back to even par for the day and T26 for the tournament. It was an inconsistent day for the world’s most consistent golfer.
Donald’s poor start has put his quest for the capturing the money title on both tours in jeopardy. He only needs to finish in the top nine to win the title and three rounds remain to be played. Donald knows he will have to play a bit better.”My goal is to concentrate on myself and just try to do what I can do to try and win this tournament and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”
McIlroy will have to keep playing well as he needs to win, with Donald to finish below ninth, for him to win the money title. He said he may have committed a few mental errors on the front but was comfortable playing with Donald. “Luke and I get on well together. We chatted all the way around.” If he is near the lead on the weekend McIlroy has to hope his isn’t playing with Donald. If Donald is anywhere near the lead McIlroy has now chance at the money title.