McIlroy v Donald battle still on as Warren joins big two at top of Dubai leaderboard
14:22 GMT, 23 November 2012
There's some storm brewing here in the desert with Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald disputing the halfway lead with Marc Warren in the DP World Tour Championship.
McIlroy defied an overnight bout of sickness to post a 67 for an 11-under-par total of 133.
Ten minutes later, Donald struck a trademark nine iron to 4ft for a birdie at the last to tie the world No 1.
Share the joy: Rory McIroy is in a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard
DP World Tour Championship
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Then Warren tapped in for a par to make this season finale an England-Scotland-Northern Ireland affair at the top after 36 holes.
Next come the South Africans Branden Grace and former Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen.
How easy it would have been for McIlroy to come here and take his foot off the pedal, with the Race to Dubai already sewn up, but no-one got to be the world's best player thinking like that.
Indeed, McIlroy handed out a warning to everyone else seeking to deny him making it a notable double here on Sunday.
'I came here as motivated as I have been all season and I am determined to end the season with a bang and win here in the desert,' he said.
There didn't appear much chance of that when he looked like he was coming down with a sickness bug on Thursday night.
A cup of lemon tea from girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki and a couple of pills, however, and he was feeling much better on Friday.
Where he wants to be: Luke Donald has a share of the lead at the DP World Tour Championship
Driving the ball imperiously, he gave himself a host of chances in another accomplished round.
'I feel this course gives me a good advantage if I'm driving it well because I can clear a lot of the fairway bunkers,' he explained.
'I missed a couple of short putts on the front nine but I've got to be happy tied for the lead going into the weekend.'
Like McIlroy, Donald has just two rounds of his season left to play and enters the final 36 holes with the same focus.
Winner last week in Japan, Donald said: 'I've got 36 holes to go and I really want to sign off with a victory.'
Donald doesn't have the length off the tee that gives McIlroy his advantage but counters that very handily with iron shots like the beauty he played at the last.
As for Warren, he had a golden opportunity to win the Scottish Open on home soil in July and is intent on showing what he has learned from that experience, when he was two ahead with three to play only to lose out in a sudden death play-off to Indian Jeev Milkha Singh.
Making a splash: Marc Warren is on 11 under after a 65 on Friday at the Earth Course
All those nervous hopefuls preparing to take part on Saturday in that nerve-wracking experience known as the European Tour's Qualifying School can take great heart from the sight of South African Grace so high up the leaderboard. This time last year, he was one of them.
'It's one of those hard weeks where you don't care if you win it or finish 30th, as long as you secure your card for next year, so good luck to all the guys,' he said.
As it happens, Grace finished 11th before embarking on a season that, as he puts it, is 'beyond a dream.'
Not only has the 24-year-old won no fewer than four times, he is in a great position in this event going into the weekend, and will play with Donald on Saturday.
'I guess you could come here with the attitude of freewheeling and enjoying it but I came here with a couple of goals for the last event and I'm determined to pull them off,' he said.
In contention: South African Branden Grace is just one shot off the leaders
'Obviously I can't win the Race to Dubai as Rory has already done that but I could finish second and I want to try for that.
'Then there's obviously lots of world ranking points at stake and I want to push for as many of those as I can.'
No question about the most remarkable round of the day. Sergio Garcia had nine birdies and two eagles on his card, which was just the amount of gains he needed to shoot the European Tour's first-ever round of 59.
Even with a couple of tees pushed forward, what a remarkable achievement that would have been on a course measuring around 7,400 yards.
Up and down: Sergio Garcia had an eventful day as he fired a 64 in his second round
Alas for the gifted Spaniard, there were not only a couple of bogeys coming home but a potentially very costly triple at the 16th that leaves him four adrift of the leaders.
'I don't think I have ever had a roller-coaster round quite like that, with so much going on during the back nine,' said Garcia, who eventually signed for a 64 that tied the course record.
The 32-year-old is playing for just the second time since having laser eye surgery and certainly had his eye in on Friday.
There are plenty of gifted shot-makers lurking just off the lead, like former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel on nine under and Justin Rose and Nicolas Colsaerts on eight.
Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, however, are a distant eight and nine shots adrift after rounds of 74 and 70 respectively.