|Dubai Desert Classic – second-round leaderboard|
|-15 R McIlroy (NI); -13 J Donaldson (Wal); -12 Li H (Chn); -11 B Grace (SA), L Jensen (Den), A Bjork (Swe), D Horsey (Eng); -10 T Aiken (SA), MA Jimenez (Spa), A Levy (Fr), H Porteous (SA), T Detry (Bel), C Paisley (Eng), H Stenson (Swe)|
|Selected others: -9 A Johnston (Eng); -8 T Hatton (Eng), S Garcia (Sp); -6 I Poulter (Eng), T Fleetwood (Eng)|
Rory McIlroy birdied the final three holes to build a two-shot lead after two rounds of the Dubai Desert Classic.
The world number 11 returned to the course on Saturday, after fog delayed proceedings on the previous day, and made five birdies in seven holes.
Jamie Donaldson is second after he followed an opening-round 62 at Emirates Golf Club with a three-under 69 to improve to 13 under par.
The cut came at five under, the lowest by two shots in the event’s history.
Among those to miss out on the final two rounds were former major winners Graeme McDowell, Ernie Els, Paul Lawrie, Danny Willett and Darren Clarke.
Ex-world number one Lee Westwood carded a double bogey for the second day in succession and despite six birdies in round two, a dropped shot at the last meant he was one stroke outside the cut line.
But Northern Ireland’s McIlroy, who missed the event last year due to the rib injury that plagued his season but returned to competition with a share of third in Abu Dhabi last week, is in prime position after adding a 64 to his opening 65.
The 28-year-old claimed his first European Tour victory at Emirates Golf Club in 2009 and after another win in 2015 is now looking to join Ernie Els as a three-time champion.
“That was pretty nice,” he said. “I knew with the conditions this morning there were chances out there, obviously with the two par-fives and 17. To take care of those and birdie a couple of others, to finish five under for my last seven was a nice way to finish this morning.
“I didn’t really have a score in mind or anything. I just wanted to go out there and play a good seven holes and hopefully get myself into contention for the last couple of rounds. I sort of did that and maybe a little bit more and it’s nice to go into the weekend in the lead.”
Welshman Donaldson was the clubhouse leader overnight, but 66 players had to complete their rounds from 07:30 local time on Saturday after two hours and 50 minutes of play was lost on Friday.
Sweden’s Alexander Bjork had two birdies and two bogeys in his remaining six holes and is four behind McIlroy, alongside Englishman David Horsey, who followed a 63 with four birdies and two bogeys in a 70.
A 65 from Branden Grace was the lowest completed round on Friday to move the South African to 11 under.
South African Thomas Aiken and veteran Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez are one further back.