McIlroy misses cut in Abu Dhabi
Rory McIlroy missed the cut in Abu Dhabi on Friday in the worst possible start to his mega-money deal with Nike.
The world number one could recover from his opening 75 and when he slumped to six over par with four holes of his second round to go McIlroy was not even in the top 100.
There was no way back from there - certainly not when he only parred the next three - in an event where the field was only 123-strong after the withdrawals of holder Robert Rock, Julien Quesne and Jaco Van Zyl.
Playing partner and world number two Tiger Woods struggled as well before suddenly finding form late in the day with a hat-trick of birdies.
Four bogeys in his first five holes put Woods in danger of joining McIlroy in crashing out, but by the time he sank a 20-foot putt on the 448-yard 14th, a 12-footer at the next and an 18-foot effort on the following green he was back up to level par and safely inside the cut mark batting a late collapse.
England's Justin Rose continued to enjoy himself in the desert sun, meanwhile.
The 32-year-old, currently ranked fifth in the world, added a 69 to his opening 67 and on eight under par was one ahead of Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen, both of whom still had the closing stretch to play.
"I felt like my game definitely sharpened up," Rose said. "When you have perfect distance control you know you are swinging it well.
"I thought it was a decent enough score to keep the momentum going. I was pin-high probably eight times, but kept leaving myself awkward distances and had to keep patient."
A six-foot putt at the 475-yard 16th produced his only deviation from par on the back nine and he then converted 15-foot chances on the second and fourth, but in between dropped his only shot after missing the green.
The finish was spectacular, however. An eight-iron approach pulled up only a foot from the flag and he said: "I can make those!"
Rose had only Open champion Ernie Els as his playing partner, Rock pulling out through illness after a 76.
Els double-bogeyed the third and dropped two other shots, but also had three birdies for a 73 and level-par aggregate.
Padraig Harrington was on the same mark after a second successive 72, but with a 73 fellow Dubliner Paul McGinley was heading out on five over in his first tournament as Ryder Cup captain.
"I really want to be competitive - I think it's an important part of the job," said the 46-year-old.
As captain he can look forward to invitations to the USPGA Championship this year and next, but added: "I don't want to go there ceremonially."
After the round Woods was given a two-shot penalty for an incident in the rough at the fifth and that took him from one over to three over and in danger of missing the cut as well.
He was told about the incident - related to an embedded ball - on his 11th hole, but the ruling came in the recorders' hut once he had finished.