All eyes will be on the Hero Dubai Desert Classic over the next three days with LIV Golf defectors Ian Poulter and Richard Bland currently leading the way on eight under par in what could be their final DP World Tour appearance.
The duo are only eligible to play this week due to the International Dispute Resolution Centre by Sports Resolutions granting a temporary stay of penalties last year, after the the DP World Tour banned LIV Golf players from playing in their events.
A five-day long session in court next month will effectively decide whether LIV golfers can be prohibited from competing on the DP World Tour (as the PGA Tour has done to this point) or can continue to play in DP World Tour events without a penalty.
With that court session in mind, the pair made the most of a potential farewell to the DP World Tour by opening up a one stroke lead at the top of the leaderboard before the second round was suspended due to bad light on another rain-hit day at the second Rolex Series event of the year, where tournament organisers confirmed play would conclude on Monday after 72 holes.
Bland, who had shot a bogey-free 67 in his first round, opened the second round with three successive birdies to move to eight under, with Poulter birdieing the long third to join him.
Rory McIlroy continued his love affair with the tournament when he returned on Friday morning with four holes to play. The World No.1 needed just seven shots to finish his round after knocking in a short birdie putt, before holing a 116-yard shot for an eagle, and then making birdie at the ninth, his final hole.
“I struggled out there most of yesterday,” said the Northen Irishman. “I thought did I well to be under par by the end of the day. I fought back after some very sloppy rusty golf over the first sort of 14 holes.
Rory starts the day with a hole-out eagle 🤩 #HeroDDC | #RolexSeries pic.twitter.com/SyPuvjrOIT
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) January 27, 2023
“And then yeah, today I came out and I don’t really know if anything clicked because I don’t think I hit enough shots to know. But it was definitely needed. Like I would have been happy with anything around 70 the way I played, and then to come in and shoot 66 is quite the bonus.”
Players who still have to complete their second round must be in position on the course ready to restart play on Saturday morning at 07:45. The second wave of players will commence at 10:50.