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Spellbinding magic fires McIlroy to flawless 64

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At the halfway point here at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, it is a question of ‘all rise’ for his rivals if they simply want to keep the world No 1 in their sights.

At the halfway point here at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, it is a question of ‘all rise’ for his rivals if they simply want to keep the world No 1 in their sights.

AP

At the halfway point here at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, it is a question of ‘all rise’ for his rivals if they simply want to keep the world No 1 in their sights.

So much for Rory McIlroy being distracted by next week's court case in Dublin which will see him take the stand and could end up costing tens of millions.

At the halfway point here at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, it is a question of 'all rise' for his rivals if they simply want to keep the world No 1 in their sights.

A faultless 64 took McIlroy to 14 under par and into a one-shot lead over Scot Marc Warren.

Even for McIlroy, a round of eight-under cannot be described as routine, although it must be said that nobody who has watched his staggering sequence since the first round of The Open last July is now remotely surprised when he shoots 66 or less.

Since opening up with a 66 at Hoylake, McIlroy has played 45 more rounds and matched, or breached that number 15 more times.

In this run there has been a Claret Jug, a USPGA title, a WGC title and four runner-up placings. For these 46 rounds he is 154-under, which works at roughly three-and-a-half under for each round. Absurd.

McIlroy could have equalled Ernie Els' Emirates course record of 61. He missed relatively straightforward birdie opportunities on the 12th, 13th and 14th, before finishing with three birdies.

He also drove the 351-yard par-four second and almost drove the 359-yard 17th. Impressive did not begin to sum it up.

McIlroy's performance took the shine off Warren's round of 65, while Graeme McDowell is a further shot back after a 65.

Peter Lawrie made the cut at back-to-back events for only the second time in 19 months and, in the process, showed the confidence and fighting spirit which suggests the Dubliner's darkest days may be behind him.

Lawrie clawed his way back into the tournament with four birdies in the final six holes for a 69 that left him just inside the cut mark on two-under.

That left him sharing 58th with Michael Hoey (70), one stroke behind Damien McGrane (70), who was tied 52nd. Darren Clarke (71) missed the cut by two.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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