Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed neck and neck in Dubai after spectacular finish

Following a second delay of the week due to flooding at Emirates Golf Club, McIlroy returned to the course facing a short birdie putt on the par-three seventh, his 16th hole.

The world No 1 calmly holed from four feet, then holed out from a fairway bunker on the eighth for an unlikely eagle and rounded off his morning’s work in style with another birdie on the difficult ninth.

That gave the two-time winner a six-under-par 66 which was matched in brilliant fashion by Reed, the former Masters champion finishing on the other side of the course by holing from 15 feet for eagle on the par-five 18th.

“Honestly not very good,” McIlroy said when asked to assess his overall performance. “I struggled out there most of yesterday.

“I thought did I well to be under par by the end of the day. I fought back after some very sloppy, rusty golf over the first sort of 14 holes.

“And then today I came out and I don’t really know if anything clicked because I don’t think I hit enough shots to know. But it was definitely needed.

Patrick Reed in action at the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday

“I would have been happy with anything around 70 the way I played, and then to come in and shoot 66 is quite the bonus.”

As for the eagle on the eighth, McIlroy added: “I wouldn’t say I’m the best fairway bunker player in the world. The desert is a little nicer, it’s a little more packed down, so you get some better lies.

“All I was thinking about was catching it clean. As soon as I struck it, I knew it came out really nicely and it was right down the pin. Again, anything inside of 20 feet, I would have been happy with, so that was certainly a bonus.”

Reed had completed 16 holes of his first round in four under on Thursday and resumed on Friday with a par on the short par-four 17th before a closing eagle.


“I’m obviously really happy with the way I played,” Reed said. “I felt like last week wasn’t really a reflection of all the hard work I’ve been doing in the off-season. It was more getting rusty on playing tournament golf.

“So to come out this week and feel like I was able to put everything together and to have my mind right on game planning and course management was definitely a plus.”

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