DUBAI • A pair of matching five-under 67s allowed European duo Sergio Garcia and Francesco Molinari to grab the midway lead at the DP World Tour Championship yesterday.
Both golfers are on nine-under 135 and are a stroke clear of overnight leader Lee Westwood, who had a late bogey on the final hole after putting his second shot into the water and had to settle for a 70.
Between them, Garcia, Molinari and Westwood have won a combined 38 European Tour titles.
World No. 3 Rory McIlroy revived his prospects of retaining the Tour Championship with a much-improved 68. He had opened with a three-over 75, his first over-par score in the event held at the Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.
But the Northern Irishman, on 143 and languishing in joint-29th spot, believes his rivals need to slip up if he is to win the European Tour's season finale for a third time after 2012 and last year.
The four-time Major winner, 27, was realistic about his chances of a fourth win of the season.
After signing for six birdies and two bogeys, he said: "If Lee or one of the other guys who played well yesterday don't get to 10 under par I feel I still have a chance...
"Yesterday was just one of those days. I was mentally very flat, still in holiday mode and not quite switched on to what I needed to do."
The Tour Championship is the final event of the Race to Dubai, with four players still in with a chance of topping the European Tour Order of Merit.
Henrik Stenson, holder of a course-record 25 under at the Earth Course, leads by 299,675 points but US Masters winner Willett can leapfrog the British Open champion should he win the tournament.
Both were tied-17th on 141 after Stenson shot 69 and Willett recorded a 70.
Willett would also top the list if he finishes second and neither Stenson nor the Swede's compatriot Alex Noren win in Dubai.
Noren (69, 140) is a shot better in joint 14th spot and needs to finish at least second and hope Stenson and Willett end down the field.
McIlroy has an outside chance, which requires several permutations falling into place - including Stenson finishing no higher than 46th in the 60-man field.
EUROPEAN TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
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