Dubai, United Arab Emirates • Rory McIlroy hit wedge into 5 feet for birdie on the 18th hole for a 2-under 70 to regain the outright lead in the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday.
The chief challenge for McIlroy came from an American — but it wasn’t Tiger Woods.
Dubai Desert Classic
Rory McIlroy -11
Brooks Koepka -10
Julien Quesne -8
Damien McGrane -8
Danny Willett -8
Tiger Woods -3
Brooks Koepka, who earned his European Tour card last year by winning three times on the Challenge Tour, made seven birdies against no bogeys for a 65 that left him one shot behind McIlroy going into the weekend.
Woods, meanwhile, hit only four fairways and had to rely on some key putts to salvage a 73. He was in a tie for 44th, eight shots out of the lead.
McIlroy was at 11-under 133.
He appeared to be in control at Emirates Golf Club, leading by three shots after his birdie at No. 10. But he drove wildly into the waste area on the par-5 13th and the par-4 16th holes, both leading to bogeys, before recovering on the 18th.
"It was nice to birdie the last and at least give myself a one-shot lead going into tomorrow," McIlroy said. "I will just go back tonight and sort of regroup and realize I am still leading the tournament. I was more frustrated on the back nine, as the back nine is where you want to build your score after playing the harder front nine."
Phil Mickelson made it to the weekend in the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., a week after withdrawing at Torrey Pines because of back pain.
The defending champion shot a 4-under 67 in his afternoon round Friday at cool and breezy TPC Scottsdale, leaving him eight strokes behind leaders Bubba Watson and Matt Jones.
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