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Rory McIlroy on track for huge comeback weekend after brilliant 66 in Abu Dhabi

Closing eagle leaves McIlroy three shots off the lead in a tie for sixth.

RORY MCILROY ROCKETED right into contention with a superb second round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

McIlroy — who has yet to make a bogey at the tournament — rolled in an eagle putt at the last for a six-under-par 66.

Playing in his first competitive tournament since October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust as he moved to nine-under, three shots behind clubhouse leader Thomas Pieters of Belgium.

Pieters leads on 12-under after carding a 65 on a day of perfect conditions, littered with low scores. Jorge Campillo, who shot 64, is one stroke back on -11 with Tommy Fleetwood, Ross Fisher and Alexander Levy all on -10.

McIlroy teed off alongside defending champion Fleetwood and world number one Dustin Johnson, and the all-star group did not disappoint.

Johnson tied for the low round of the day with a 64, which leaves him a shot behind McIlroy, while Fleetwood bounced back from the trio’s only bogey of the day on 16 to finish birdie-birdie for a 68.

“It’s been good. The last two days, I’ve been really, really happy,” McIlroy told Sky Sports.

“I’ve played really solid.

Today was an improvement on yesterday just in terms of scoring. I felt like I hit the ball very similar, gave myself a lot of chances. I probably could have been a bit better again but I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position.

“It proves that I’m back to full fitness and full health,” he added.

“DJ is definitely the number one player in the world right now and one of, if not the best drivers of the golf ball. To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

Paul Dunne is in a tie for 21st after a two-under-par 70 moved him to six-under-par.

But there was disappointment for Graeme McDowell who missed the cut after a disappointing 74 in his second round.

See the full leaderboard here >

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