LUKE Donald promised a lot more than he delivered for the second round running at the Dubai World Championship today.
After coming back from an opening bogey with three birdies in the next four holes - just as he did when the European Tour's season-ending event began - the world number one could not sustain his charge.
Needing a top-nine finish to guarantee he completes the double of money list titles on both sides of the Atlantic, Donald was one under par and only joint 30th with three holes to play.
The Order of Merit crown will still be his if Rory McIlroy fails to win the tournament, but there remained a real possibility of that when the 22-year-old, third overnight, two-putted the long second for birdie.
McIlroy was seven under par as a result, but still third and still two strokes off the lead.
That was held by Paul Lawrie rather than Peter Hanson, however. The Scot pitched to three feet on the opening two holes and birdied them both, while Hanson, who equalled the course record with his 64, had to settle for par figures.
McIlroy was then joined in third spot by Donald's fellow Englishman Paul Casey, making a real burst after teeing off again at level par.
Casey, who finished third at the Chevron World Challenge in California on Sunday after starting with a 79, eagled the long seventh and by adding five birdies needed two more in the last four holes to break the course record.
Sergio Garcia, playing with McIlroy, also birdied the second to improve to six under and was sharing fifth spot with Spanish compatriot Alvaro Quiros.
McIlroy moved up to joint second when Hanson bogeyed the third, but his deficit went to three with Lawrie almost holing-in-one at the 245-yard fourth.
There were chances for McIlroy to close the gap on the fifth and sixth, but he missed from eight feet both times.
Donald, meanwhile, birdied the 16th and 17th to be tied for 17th - not where he wanted to be, but better than it had been.