Rory McIlroy pays penalty in Abu Dhabi

Penalty costs McIlroy as Olesen leads in Abu Dhabi

Rory McIlroy lost the lead as he incurred a careless two-stroke penalty at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Joint top overnight with Swede Robert Karlsson, the US Open champion had come back from a shaky start with three birdies when his rules blunder came on the 456-yard ninth.

Just off the green in two, McIlroy made the mistake of brushing away sand that was not on the putting surface and the penalty was imposed after a referee had been called.

Paying the penalty: Rory McIlroy on the second tee

Paying the penalty: Rory McIlroy on the second tee

The 22-year-old world No 3 also had a double bogey on the third and did well to avoid another on the 11th, but six birdies kept him in the hunt.

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In the swing: Thorbjorn Olesen leads in Abu Dhabi

Westwood was in grave danger of crashing out as well after five bogeys in his first 12 holes, but came back with a hat-trick of birdies.

Before going off for treatment the Worksop golfer said: 'I've had it for about a month, but this is the first time I've played three days in a row since.

'The pain goes down into my elbow and it feels like somebody is driving a needle in there.'

Asked if there was any possibility of him withdrawing during the round he added: 'If I'd hit it in the long rough I might have had to think about it, but hopefully I'll be ok tomorrow.'

As the day's play drew towards its close Olesen, three times a runner-up in his rookie season last year, was a stroke in front of McIlroy's compatriot Gareth Maybin, who had yet to record a bogey.