Rory McIlroy two off Abu Dhabi pace after eventful 72

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy
McIlroy (right) played with Tiger Woods in the first two rounds in Abu Dhabi

Rory McIlroy is two behind leader Thorbjorn Olesen at the halfway stage of the Abu Dhabi Championship after an eventful 72 left him on five under.

McIlroy's round included a two-shot penalty for brushing sand from his line from just off the green on nine.

Gareth Maybin shares second on six under after a steady 70 while Graeme McDowell is three under after a 69.

Darren Clarke missed the cut after slumping to an 81 while Michael Hoey's 76 put him on the cut mark of two over.

McIlroy had regrouped from an opening bogey and double bogey at the third by carding birdies at the fourth, fifth and eighth to get back to level par for his round.

However, he then suffered his two-shot penalty at the ninth when he brushed away the sand from his putting line from just off the green.

McIlroy said after his round that playing partner Luke Donald had immediately spotted the rules infringement.

"Luke said 'I don't think you can do that' and then I was like 'Oh yeah I can't, can I?' It twigged on me straightaway," said McIlroy.

"It undid all the great work I'd done after the bad start, but JP (caddie JP Fitzgerald) said 'It's only Friday, it's not as if these things are happening to you on a Sunday afternoon'."

McIlroy regrouped well to birdie the 10th by hitting a glorious second shot into the par five and after bogeying the 11th, he picked up further shots at the 12th and 14th.

The world number three finished level with his other playing partner Tiger Woods who fired a solid 69.

In contrast to McIlroy, Maybin produced an impeccable 70 as he kept a bogey off his card for the second straight day to take a share of second place with Matteo Manassero at the halfway point.

McDowell is only four off the lead after firing a 69 while Hoey needed to birdie the last to squeeze into the final two rounds on the cut mark of two over.

Dunhill Links Champion Hoey carded two double bogeys and a bogey on his front nine as he went to the turn in 41 and was staring at an early exit after further concessions on 16 and 17 before his birdie at the last.

After an opening birdie, Clarke dropped five shots to go to the turn in 40 and things didn't get any better on the back nine as he signed for a dismal 81.

The other of Ireland's major champions Padraig Harrington continued to show signs of a return to form as his 69 left him on four under.

Peter Lawrie (72) and Shane Lowry (77) both missed the cut on six over while Damien McGrane's tournament also ended as he hit a 76 for five over.

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