McIlroy couldn’t recapture the form he displayed on Thursday – really, for the better part of the year – in Round 2 on The Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. He made only two birdies on Friday, compared to seven birdies and one eagle to open the tournament.
"It's a very fickle game," McIlroy told reporters. "I've always said that one day it can seem very easy and someone up there says, 'no, not so fast' and brings you back down to earth. That's golf.
"I battled through it. I'm still in with a shout to have a go at winning this tournament, I just need to stick the head down over the weekend and get in there and try to shoot a couple of good scores."
Starting the day one shot behind leader Michael Lorenzo-Vera, McIlroy parred his first five holes before a double bogey at the par-3 sixth. From there it was a mundane 12 holes consisting of two birdies and two bogeys. After making a brilliant eagle on the par-5 18th on Thursday, McIlroy hit his tee shot into the water on Friday and salvaged a par.
It all added up to a 2-over 74, 10 shots worse than Round 1.
McIlroy, a three-time Race to Dubai champion, doesn’t have a chance to capture a fourth season title this week. However, he is seeking his fifth worldwide victory of the year. McIlroy enters the weekend at 6 under par. He’s tied for fifth place, but now seven shots behind Frenchman Lorenzo-Vera.