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Woods misses cut after penalty

Tiger Woods was hit with a two-stroke penalty and joined Rory McIlroy in missing the halfway cut at the Abu Dhabi Championship.

The two biggest names in golf had been paired together at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship but, in a huge blow to the fans with tickets for the weekend action, neither will be around after both shot second-round 75s.

That came after Woods found himself in trouble over an embedded ball incident on the fifth hole and once off the course had his bogey five turned to a triple bogey.

Instead of being one over and safely in for the closing 36 holes his score was changed to three over, one stroke too many.

European Tour senior referee Andy McFee, alerted after two journalists spoke to another of the referees, told Woods on the 11th hole that there was an investigation going on, but it was only after the round that the penalty was imposed.

"Andy feels the way he feels about it and I broke the rules," Woods said.

At the time he had asked Martin Kaymer, the other member of the star group, to examine the lie in amongst the ice plants.

"I called Martin over to verify the ball was embedded. We both agreed, but evidently it was not sand.

"It's tough. I didn't get off to a very good start and I fought. I got it back."

As for McIlroy, unveiled this week as the new mega-million face of Nike, he could not save himself despite changing to an old putter on his return to the course.

"I just felt the greens I have been practising on were much faster. It was just a weight issue," the 23-year-old Northern Irishman said being before asked if his new equipment company were fine about him not using one of their putters.

"I'm not here to talk about my (Nike) contract. I'm here to talk about my golf," he replied.

"I've got four weeks to work on it. I knew it was going to be a tough week (his deal was unveiled on Monday). I hit the ball really well in Dubai last week, but it just got worse for some reason.

"I'm very disappointed. You never want to get off to a poor start, but I've got to realise it's only the start of the season."

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, Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

"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 and 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.