Golf: Late birdies boost McIlroy in Abu Dhabi

Rory McIlroy celebrates his eagle at the 18th hole during the second round.
Rory McIlroy celebrates his eagle at the 18th hole during the second round.PHOTO: REUTERS

ABU DHABI (AFP) - World No. 3 Rory McIlroy turned around his disappointing outing in the space of two holes and finished the weather-interrupted second round just two shots behind leader Andy Sullivan in the US$2.7 million (S$3.9 million) Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Saturday.

Early-morning fog on Friday at Abu Dhabi Golf Club had forced suspension of play that caused the second round to be completed on Saturday.

The start was once again delayed, this time by two hours and 50 minutes.

McIlroy, playing alongside world No. 1 Jordan Spieth and No. 6 Rickie Fowler, came back to complete his remaining five holes, and was still without any birdie and one-over for the round when he stepped on the 17th tee.

"I said, let's finish 3-3 and I was able to that," said McIlroy, who made a birdie on the par-four 17th and then smashed a laser-guided five-wood second shot that almost holed out for an albatross.

The Northern Irishman tapped in for an eagle to finish on two-under 70 and a 136 total.

"I knew I needed something and I knew I wanted to finish well and I knew 18 was a chance and 17 playing downwind, I would have a wedge in there. So I knew I had a couple of good chances.

"But I didn't quite expect to do it on 18 there. That was a nice way to finish," said McIlroy, who finished tied for second place alongside first-round leader, American amateur Bryson DeChambeau (72).

"It was an average round to be fair but that's the thing, even when you're not really at your best, to be able to come away with a 70 and still keep within it up of the leaders, I'm really happy with that."

Spieth (73) parred his last five holes to be at three under, while Fowler (68) started with a bogey on the 14th hole, but added a couple of birdies on the 16th and 18th to be tied 11th at six under.

The cut was one-under 143.